In the six years since Stranger Things premiered on Netflix, fans have watched the kids from Hawkins grow from children to fully-fledged high school students. And while Vecna, the Mind Flayer, and other monsters on the series are thankfully just products of the Duffer Brothers’ imagination, the girls on the show seem so real. Here are five amazing truths the show teaches us not just about girls in the 1980s, but about today’s girls too.
Friendships aren’t just for fun.
Friendships on Stranger Things aren’t a sidenote—they’re at the core of the story. In fact, knowing she has her friends’ love and support literally saves Max’s life. And in today’s world, where roughly one in four girls aged 13–18 suffer from anxiety and suicide among teen girls has risen by 50 percent, there’s no doubt that strong friendships are vital in girls’ lives and should be prioritized. Get to know your girls’ besties and do what you can to help her see them in person when possible. Consider letting her host a movie night at your house once a week or signing her up for an after-school group with other kids her age. Forever friendship can help your girl grow stronger, have more confidence, and be more resilient through her life.
Even the strongest girls need to recharge.
If being strong and resilient eventually takes its toll on Eleven, a girl with superhuman powers—imagine how worn out an average girl might feel navigating today’s high-pressure world. That’s why it’s important to check in with your girl and teach her that no one can be at the top of their game all the time. Making sure she has time to rest, recharge, and even get goofy with her friends can give her a bit of space to breathe and help her stay healthy both physically and mentally.
There’s more going on than meets the eye.
When her friends are in danger, Nancy is the first one to (literally) dive in and help—no matter how dire the situation. Some might mistake her courage for fearlessness, but that’s only because Nancy does a good job of hiding her deep worries and fears from those closest to her. Many girls feel the pressure to be perfect and resist sharing what they think of as “bad” feelings or thoughts with others. Bottling up sadness, anxieties, or fears is unhealthy and almost always makes things worse. Discussing your own disappointments, setbacks, and losses with your girl can teach her that these feelings are a normal part of life, and that talking them through can help.
They're not all boy crazy.
In season three, Steve gets a surprise when he realizes his latest crush (and Scoops Ahoy coworker), Robin, isn’t just not into him … she’s not into guys at all. This revelation actually brings them closer as friends, making them one of the most beloved duos of the series. As of 2019, nearly 12 percent of high school kids identified as part of the LGBTQ+ community—and studies show that nearly half of LGBTQ youth considered suicide in 2021. LGBTQ+ kids need more of the kind of unconditional love and support Robin gets from her friends on the show.
Never underestimate them.
Erica may get less screen time than the other Stranger Things kids, but she doesn’t need much to make a huge impact. Time and time again, Lucas’s little sister proves that she can both love My Little Pony and be a boss. From reminding the others they’d be lost without her to declaring “You can’t spell America without Erica,” her swagger and confidence are plainly inspiring. Help your girl know her worth by reminding her of her strengths and celebrating all the ways in which she shines.
Aunque las calificaciones no lo son todo en la vida, tener éxito en la escuela puede aumentar la autoestima de su niña y prepararla para un futuro brillante, lleno de logros y realización personal. Por estas y otras razones, es natural esperar que a su niña le vaya bien en la escuela y sentir un poco de decepción cuando ella este teniendo dificultades.
Pero mientras muchas personas piensan que los niños que obtienen bajas calificaciones no son tan inteligentes o son perezosos, hay muchas razones por las cuales su niña inteligente podría tener calificaciones más bajas de lo que usted esperaría, y no tiene nada que ver con su inteligencia o su falta de ella. Aquí, la Dra. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, psicóloga del desarrollo de Girl Scouts, enumera algunos de los muchos factores que pueden afectar el rendimiento de su hija en el aula, ¡y que usted puede ayudarla a superar!
In our always-on digital world, technology has made all of us, including the youngest among us, virtual witnesses to disturbing scenes and violence—whether the imagery in question depicts the grief after a mass shooting at a school, a hate crime, or even war and other forms of mass violence.
With kids spending more time than ever on screens and with disturbing imagery dominating the news, sometimes they stumble upon these visuals before they—or you—know what happened. When violence breaks out and times are turbulent, extra screen time vigilance, particularly for younger kids, may be in order.
Kids and teens are understandably scared and upset when they see acts of extreme violence—from school shootings to terrorist attacks at concerts or gatherings—especially when other young people are involved. Older girls may try to bury their feelings of fear or sadness, but those feelings will only fester and become larger problems if they're not dealt with. Younger kids who don’t have the context to understand what’s going on will often fill in the blanks with the most frightening and worst-possible scenarios. That’s why it’s so important that parents don’t dismiss their kids' worries by saying, “Don’t worry about that,” or “Oh, that’s nothing.”
We need to have honest, direct conversations with all our children to acknowledge that scary things happen but also to assure them that you and others are working to keep them safe.
Here are a few tips for how you can have these conversations in your own home.
Most of all, take the time to give your daughter some extra love and support. Her feelings are probably complicated and confusing to her right now—but knowing she's got you on her team will help her through this.
From the National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Another high-profile person being accused of sexual assault? Sadly it's nothing new, but these cases are getting more attention, and it’s not just adults who are talking about the issue. Because many of these sexual assault cases involve abuse against teenagers, young people—especially those who may have been in similar situations or know someone who has—are paying attention and taking everything in.
“While the details of the allegations are graphic and disturbing, what is perhaps most disturbing, and in fact dangerous, is that many in the public eye continue to say that even if these allegations are true, this type of behavior is not a big deal,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “This message that sexual assault is just a teenage indiscretion, that it’s akin to horseplay, or that it’s ‘normal behavior’ for adolescent boys is damaging not only to girls, but to all young people.”
Specifically, these types of dismissals can make victims even less likely to report sexual assault, more likely to blame themselves, and keep them from getting the help they need to recover. Meanwhile, this messaging is damaging to boys because it’s unfairly stereotyping them all as toxic, misogynistic, and violent—and essentially giving them a free pass to engage in these horrific acts.
The hard truth is that teen sexual assault is incredibly common and severely underreported:
It’s terrifying to consider, and often easier to think, “Well, not my girl!,” but as parents and caregivers, we have to do better.
“It’s our job to let the girls in our lives know that we take what happens to them seriously—that their bodies and rights are to be respected and that their safety and well-being come first. Additionally, we need to let boys know that nothing about sexual assault is normal and that we expect, and in fact demand, better from them,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald.
Having these types of conversations with your children might feel awkward at first, or even intimidating, but their health, safety, and well-being depend on it. Here are some ideas on to get started:
Beyond having these conversations with your girl, keep your ears open for comments and chatter you hear out in the world. If someone you know dismisses sexual assault as “no big deal,” do the brave thing and correct them without apology. Our girls (and boys) are watching and listening to your example, and your boldness could give them the courage to do the same. Changing the culture and spreading the message that sexual violence will not be tolerated is perhaps the most powerful thing we can do to keep our girls and in fact all young people, safe.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, free and confidential support is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE.
In a perfect world, catcalling and other forms of harassment simply wouldn’t exist. But the truth is, our world is far from perfect. Not only do fully-grown women face creepy comments and unwanted attention on a regular basis, but young girls—like your daughter—do, too.
Two years ago, a study showed that one in ten American girls had been catcalled before her 11th birthday. That’s right, we’re talking about fourth graders getting wolf-whistled and potentially worse. And now, a 2017 report shows more than one in six girls in elementary and secondary school have dealt with gender-based harassment.
Why is this such a big deal? Let us count the ways. First of all, according to Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “catcalling and other objectifying behaviors can make girls feel their value lies solely in how they look as opposed to what they think or the things they can accomplish. That kicks off a domino effect of girls engaging in self-objectifying—feeling overly concerned about how they look, comparing their bodies to those of other girls and women, and even judging other girls based on their looks.” Catcalling can also make girls feel ashamed of their bodies or threatened like they have to be extra cautious when out in public. None of these are things that anyone should have to spend time and energy thinking about—let alone an 11-year-old girl.
Further, studies have shown that young women perform significantly worse at math after being objectified by a member of the opposite sex. That is, in a controlled study, when females were leered at by a male actor posing as a peer and then took a math test, they got far fewer answers correct compared to women who had not first experienced the objectifying, sexualized stare. Perhaps we should add that to the reason why girls and women are still in the minority in so many STEM fields?
Finally, all these “little” comments about girls’ and women’s bodies
contribute to a culture in which the female body is seen as up for
grabs—both literally and figuratively. When fast and loose “locker
room talk” about girl’s bodies is deemed acceptable or at least
harmless, boundaries start to blur farther, putting girls at risk of
dealing with aggressive physical behaviors in addition to the verbal
taunts. Case in point? A recent study showed that more than one in
five girls aged 14-18 have been kissed or touched without their
“Beyond setting the damaging standard that girls and women are worth little more than the physical bodies they have to offer, when we simply dismiss catcalling as “boys being boys” or “men being men,” it actually confuses boys—making them think masculinity and aggression go hand-in-hand—and gives a bad name to all men, many of whom both admire and respect women," says Dr. Bastiani Archibald.
Essentially, catcalling is harmful, scary, and it could be happening to your daughter—or at least one of her friends. That said, the last thing you as a parent should do when it comes to all of this is to pretend it’s not happening. Yes, these may not be the most comfortable topics to think about or discuss, but “sheltering” your girl from these real truths can actually put her at even more risk. So here are 6 things you can (and really should) do to help protect your daughter and fight back against these sexist behaviors:
While we can’t flip a switch and create a harassment-free world for our girls, we do know that ignoring catcalling or laughing it off contributes to a culture where such behavior is seen as normal and even acceptable. Your daughter—and all of us—deserve better than that.
Ever had a day when absolutely nothing seemed to go right? Spilled coffee without a Shout Wipe in sight followed by a mandatory morning meeting when you’re running late to the office? Your best friend bailed on lunch, and the document you’ve been working on for weeks has somehow vaporized into thin air? Got all the grocery shopping done, battled the endless check-out lines, only to realize you left your wallet at home?
Mmmhm. We’ve all been there. Yet so often, when asked the seemingly simple question, “How was your day?” you likely tend to respond by telling people everything’s fine—regardless of how hairy things have been. But that’s exactly what you shouldn’t do when it comes to your daughter. In fact, you should make a point to talk to her—in an age-appropriate way, of course—about the annoyances, disappointments, and other general crud in your day!
“Challenges and failures are a normal part of life,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “And as parents and caregivers, it’s important to raise our children—especially girls, who are so often steered away from negative feelings like anger, sadness, or frustration—to understand these experiences are to be expected, and negative emotions often totally appropriate. She needs to know it’s OK and important to talk about them with the people we trust.”
Nobody’s perfect, and life isn’t exactly a tidily wrapped package tied with a bow, despite what many movies and TV shows would have our children believe. That said, helping your girl to embrace challenges and accept moments of struggle can help her become stronger and better prepared to persevere in our sometimes difficult world. Plus, it will hopefully help her feel more comfortable sharing the not-so-great parts of her day with you, including having discussions about what she can learn from them, or what could be done to make those aspects of her life better.
And one thing you really might not have thought about is that as much as you want to be there for your daughter when she’s having a rough time, she probably wants to be there for you when you’re dealing with a tricky situation or are feeling a bit low—because she loves you! By listening and understanding that your day didn’t go the way you hoped it would, she’ll develop her emotional intelligence, empathy and feel good about being able to help others. Plus? You’ll probably get a much-needed hug out of the deal! Win-win.
“I’m fat.” Those are just two little words, five letters in total, but coming from your daughter, they’re enough to make your heart totally sink. How could a girl who’s typically so kind and accepting of others be so disparaging of herself?
According to studies, a whopping 80 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. Why? Because they’re constantly surrounded by both subtle and direct messages that curvier or heavier girls aren’t as well liked, aren’t as likely to succeed in business, and in general, aren’t going to have as much fun or happiness in their lives. Think about it: many of the animated heroines they idolize have unrealistically thin bodies, gossip magazines and websites are quick to call scandal on even an ounce of celebrity cellulite, and so called, “fat jokes”—despite their inherent offensiveness—remain completely acceptable in many circles as well as in movies and TV shows. It’s a pretty sad state of affairs.
So, when your daughter does call herself fat, as her parent your instinct might be to immediately brush off her concerns by saying something like, “Don’t be silly! You’re beautiful!” The thing is, though, that response might actually do more harm than good. “First of all,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “if she really sees her body in a certain way, simply telling her to stop seeing it that way isn’t going to help much. Remember that infamous dress on social media a few years back that some people thought was blue and some thought was gold—and how frustrating it was when those who saw it differently insisted that you were seeing it wrong and tried to get you to see it their way? That’s kind of how your girl is going to feel when you tell her that her body simply isn’t the way she thinks it is.”
Secondly, by telling essentially telling her that she’s not fat, she’s pretty, you’re reinforcing the idea that fatter, rounder, curvier or heavier bodies aren’t beautiful—which simply isn’t true. There are endless ways to be beautiful, and your daughter will grow up with a much healthier relationship to her body if you teach her that in a genuine way from a young age.
So what should you do when your daughter calls herself fat? Follow these tips from Dr. Bastiani Archibald:
* A better approach is to pause for a moment and ask your daughter why she thinks she’s fat. Is it because her clothes are fitting differently than they used to, or that a size she used to wear doesn’t feel comfortable anymore? Do her friends at school have different body types, and so she’s comparing herself to them? “Don’t be afraid to talk to your daughter about her body and how she feels about it,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “So many parents think it’s better not to talk about body image at all, but the truth is that even though there are so many things about us that make us unique and valuable, how you look still factors into our confidence and sense of self.”
So, ask the question and really listen to her response. If she says she thinks her legs are bigger or her tummy is rounder than those of her friends, those may actually be correct observations—and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that. “Your daughter should never be ashamed of the realities of her own body,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “We’re all different in so many ways, and it’s counterproductive to pretend that we’re not.” Still, she’s not going to find total body acceptance overnight. In the meantime, help her identify some parts of her body that she does like and feels proud of. Maybe she has the most graceful arms in her dance class, or strong legs that power the most awesome soccer goals, or she’s taller than most of her friends and can reach the highest part of the jungle gym. Talking regularly and complimenting her about what her body can do rather than just what it looks like can really help change her perceptions and orientation to what’s important.
* Another reason your girl might call herself fat is because she’s heard you do the same to yourself. Your daughter listens to everything you say—and if you’re picking yourself apart in front of the mirror or complaining about your weight, there’s a good chance that she’ll follow in your self-disparaging footsteps. So do everyone a favor and be a little kinder to yourself. Identify parts of your body that serve you well and make note of the things you really do love about the way you look. Healthy habits like eating right and exercise are good for everyone, and should be a daily part of your routine, but fixating on your body and how it could or should be different isn’t healthy for anyone.
* Make sure she has positive body-image role models. Both the red carpet and the boardroom are becoming more diverse in terms of body size and shape, but girls might not see that reflected in the magazine aisle or on her favorite websites—so go the extra mile to compensate for some of the less-healthy messages your daughter may be getting from other sources. For younger girls, it might be helpful to show her some beautiful images of a women with very different body types, and tell her all about what they’ve accomplished, and what they’re best known for—their brains, their talents, their speed, their sense of humor. She needs to know you don’t have to be a certain size or shape to make it big in life.
Sadly, there’s no instant fix to society’s fat-shaming problem and
the limiting depictions of beauty that are held up as standards for
girls and women. But there are things you can do at home with your
daughter, and in your daily life in general, to help fight against
this culture and create a better one where all are celebrated as
wonderful and worthy.
Girls are amazing. They’re strong, funny, and thoughtful. They’re innovative and gutsy. They’re loving and adventurous. But beyond all of those wonderful qualities, roughly a quarter of girls today are also hurting themselves. That might sound extreme, but studies show that nationwide, one in four adolescent girls has deliberately harmed herself in the past year. In some regions of the country, rates of self-harm are closer to one in three.
Many of you might be thinking, “not my girl!,” and we hope you’re right. But that doesn’t mean self-harm doesn’t affect your daughter’s world.
“It can be hard to understand why a young person with her whole future ahead of her would purposefully hurt herself,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Self-harm is too often a response to stress or anxiety that can be used to either distract from feelings or control them.” And in today’s stressful world, the rates of self-harm among girls are high enough that a friend in your girl’s circle may be suffering.
“Even suspecting that a friend, teammate, or classmate is hurting herself could make your girl feel confused, sad, angry, or responsible for fixing things,” Dr. Bastiani Archibald explains. “It’s a complicated issue, and one that young people shouldn’t have to face alone.”
Here are three ways you can be there for your girl and make her more likely to turn to you if she needs extra support.
If you’re concerned that your girl may be engaging in self-harm or think that she may be having trouble coping with a friend who hurts herself, don’t hesitate to reach out to the school’s guidance counselor, a local health professional, or a community leader for help and guidance. Nobody wants to see young people suffering, and you do not have to navigate this on your own.
When pop stars sing about hopelessness and feeling stressed, girls get it. While we’d like to think of girlhood as a time for carefree fun, friendship, and adventure, the numbers show it’s currently anything but.
On December 7, 2021, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report warning of the devastating effects of a youth mental health crisis that has been growing well before the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. Surgeon General advisories are typically reserved for the most pressing public health issues and call for urgent action.
The 53-page report addresses the unprecedented challenges and trauma youth have faced before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Since the pandemic began, symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns have increased among young people,” explains the Surgeon General.
Even pre-pandemic, girls in a national survey reported the highest rates of loneliness on record. Then in 2019—months before COVID-19 was even a blip on most people’s radar—more than one in three girls in the U.S. said they felt extremely anxious on a daily basis. Most tragic of all, suicide rates in girls ages 10–14 tripled between 1999 and 2007 and have risen by 13 percent since then.
“Girls were definitely experiencing loneliness and isolation, even when they were able to be with their peers,” says Amy Kaufman, a clinical therapist in Southern California who specializes in teen and tween girls. “It can be hard to feel like you really fit in or are wanted when most interactions outside class are taking place over social media or online. Plus, virtual communication is actually exhausting. Part of your brain might acknowledge that your friend texted or liked your post, but you’re not going to have the same biological brain reaction to that attention as you would if they were there in person. When people show up for you physically, there’s a different level of effort put in than just clicking on a photo or replying with emojis—and kids respond to that.”
Now, with many schools needing to be online for safety reasons, Ms. Kaufman says girls are facing even more isolation. “It can be hard to make friends in school in the best of times, but it’s nearly impossible to make actual friends in an online classroom with 30 other faces on the screen.” Your girl can see she’s part of a large group in a way, but there’s no opportunity for her to make a real connection. Even if her school is meeting in person, she can’t just lean over to a friend and share a joke or ask for help with a math problem, because people need to remain at a social distance. Beyond that, younger girls who are just starting to form social skills are missing out on formative experiences with sharing, playing together, and working as a team.
The bottom line? Girls need to feel a sense of belonging—now more than ever—and you can help.
Having the camaraderie and friendships that come from being in some kind of local group or club can help show your girl that others are having similar issues to hers and that she’s not alone. “Community makes people feel safer. And girls desperately need that right now,” says Ms. Kaufman.
Sadly, no side ponytail, cool sunglasses, or randomly inserted slang can make your girl see you or other caring adults as a replacement for friends her own age (honestly, she might think you look silly and roll her eyes), but you can help bridge that gap in a meaningful way.
“If she doesn’t have one already, help her start a social group with other girls her age,” Ms. Kaufman suggests. “This might be a film club where the girls watch movies at the same time and talk about them, a book club, or some other kind of structured time she knows she can count on.” She recommends socially distanced in-person meetings if they can be done safely, because people bond differently and more easily when they’re physically together, but says even regular virtual meetings can make a big difference.
“Having a space she can depend on, even online, that’s dedicated to her having a social outlet and being a social support to others in her community—a space where making friends and having fun is the priority—can combat feelings of alienation,” says Ms. Kaufman, who recommends finding ways to do activities together, even if girls can’t be in the same space.
Girl Scouts, whether in person or virtual, has been a key support for many girls right now, both younger and older. “I’ve felt the stress of uncertainty most days this year, but I’m also more thankful than ever for Girl Scouts,” says 15-year-old Lizzie. “Having a sisterhood I can depend on to share serious thoughts and silly photos with and a community that nurtures my confidence has made such a difference. When one door closes, I know I can find and open another. When plans get canceled, I know I have the power to make new ones.”
Parents of younger girls say the structure and community of Girl Scouts has made a difference in their families as well. “When the pandemic began, our Girl Scout troop leaders did not think twice about continuing and immediately set up online meetings that continued through the summer,” says Stephanie Samperi-Gonzalez, mom to a nine-year-old girl. “It made a dreary time in quarantine more bearable, because my daughter knew she would ‘see’ friends, even without seeing them in person. The troop leaders even talked to the girls about the reality of the pandemic and other issues in a way they could understand and be a part of the conversation. In that way, by discussing, never ignoring very important current events, I feel Girl Scouts hasn't only supported our daughter but also her parents.”
Coordinating social meetups for girls might not seem like the most important thing right now, but it’s actually more vital than ever. “It’s so important for girls to see that parents and other adults care,” says Ms. Kaufman. Even if they don’t tell you how much it means, or if they act like it’s not a big deal, you’re giving them a sense of safety and love—something that, in these times, could truly make a meaningful difference in her life.
Whether your girl has mid-week soccer practice, twice-weekly dance classes, an SAT study group, or babysits every Wednesday night, there’s one thing that always has to fit in the mix: her homework. Depending on your daughter’s grade level and what kind of subjects she’s studying, that homework could take anywhere from fifteen minutes to a few hours. And how well she does on it will likely affect that time range—and her grades, as well.
Since her time is so precious (let’s just get this done, right?!) and her grades will likely be a pretty big factor in getting into college, you may feel the urge to point her in the direction of correct answers or even to jump in and complete part of a take-home project for her. And usually, that’s not a great idea.
“Teachers use homework to measure what your girl has learned and how much she can do on her own after a lesson,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “If you’ve stepped in and done some of the work yourself, her teacher won’t understand that your daughter needs extra help, and may think it’s appropriate to move forward to more advanced lessons your girl isn’t ready for.” Essentially, teachers can’t fill gaps in your girl’s knowledge unless they know what they are in the first place.
Plus, it’s important for her to learn that she won’t always get things right the first time, and that success comes with persistence and hard work. If you’re swinging in to help, she’s not getting that important lesson either.
And as for trying to fill those gaps by teaching her a thing or two yourself? Dr. Bastiani Archibald says you can actually do your girl a disservice by trying to teach her how to solve a homework problem yourself. “Your daughter’s teacher might teach a different method than the one you learned in school—and showing her a different way to do the work can confuse her or throw her classroom learning off-track.”
That said, if you see her really struggling or absolutely feel the need to work on a concept or two with your daughter, make a note on the homework saying she was having trouble or had parental help and consider calling a meeting with her teacher to discuss whether or not the homework is at your daughter’s level. An initial conversation between you can lay the groundwork for a real partnership and help you understand ways that you can support what your girl is learning in school.
Above all, the best thing you as a parent can do to help your daughter with her homework is to ask about what she’s working on—explaining the project to others can actually enhance her learning process—ensure she has a clean and tidy place to work (if she doesn’t have a desk of her own, the kitchen table will do just fine!) and to be sure she’s not distracted during the time you’ve designated for homework. That means no TV, and no internet in general unless it’s being used for research.
“You don’t have to be super educated yourself to be a great ally in your daughter’s academic success,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Taking interest in her work and giving her the space and time she needs may seem too simple, but really, it’s what every child needs to learn.”
“Let’s go outside!”
Those three little words are music to every parent's ears.
Today, in our always-on culture filled with smartphones, streaming entertainment, online games, and even virtual reality, it’s important that girls make a strong connection to nature and the outdoors.
Getting outside and exploring nature has benefits that go far beyond what one might expect—these experiences contribute to girls’ challenge-seeking and problem-solving skills and make girls more likely to connect with and care for the environment.
What's more, when girls consistently participate in organized outdoor activities, they grow their leadership skills and make more friends. The positive effects of nature are even more pronounced for girls from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
"Research tells us that even 30 minutes of regular outdoor activities boosts self-confidence in girls," explains Liz Williams, Outdoor Initiative Lead at Girl Scouts of the USA. "Regular and consistent outdoor experiences lead girls to develop a passion for the environment and become stewards of the land."
Although getting outside to explore nature can be fun and relaxing, it can also intimidate some parents, especially if they aren’t dyed-in-the wool campers. That’s totally OK, we've got you covered!
Try these six super-easy ways to connect you and your girl with nature, the outdoors, and each other.
Kids love the outdoors, so it doesn’t take much to get them outside and running, climbing, exploring, learning, and having a blast. It just takes a little encouragement from parents and the freedom to explore—and they'll take it from there!
Inspiring your girl to experience the world outside walls can be easy for you, educational for her, and totally fun for you both!
Whether you call it fat shaming or body shaming, one thing is clear: nobody should feel shame over their weight, clothing size, or body shape. And while you’d never intentionally say or do anything to make your girl feel too fat, too big, too anything—the sad truth is that more than half of girls in first through third grades think their “ideal weight” is less than their actual weight. You read that correctly. Six-year-old girls aren’t just aware of their weight; they think there’s something wrong with it.
Where are girls getting this body shame from, though? Despite the fact that you’d never, ever directly shame your daughter in any way, a lot of behaviors she sees in the grownups in her life can indirectly make your girl second-guess herself or see herself in a not-so-flattering light.
Basically, if you’re covering up your curves, staying out (or standing in the back) of family photos in an attempt to hide yourself, making disparaging jokes about your body, or even calling a pair of pants your “fat jeans,” she’s picking up on it and will likely view her own body through that same hyper-conscious lens.
It really is a problem. So much so that one in four kids say comments from their parents have made them self-conscious about their bodies. Even more depressing? Feeling shamed by parents actually makes kids more susceptible and sensitive to body shaming from others in their lives.
It’s a sad—and in some cases, dangerous—state of affairs. Girls deserve better. Families deserve better. We all deserve better.
But how can we end the cycle of fat-shaming if we don’t even realize we’re part of the problem? It’s easier than you think, and it starts at home. Here are five ways to combat body-shaming:
In other words, pushing yourself to put on that bathing suit for a splash at the local pool, making sure family pics include your fabulous self, and adopting the air of confidence you want your girl to have about her body (even if it doesn’t come naturally to you) are all super awesome things you can do for your girl. Bonus? Over time, some of this pretend positivity might just become the real deal—helping you heal yourself and lift up your girl at the same time.
In times of natural disaster, it’s everyone’s responsibility to come together to support and provide aid and comfort to those directly affected. And although it’s simply human to get caught up in the harrowing news coverage, it’s also important to note that the youngest members of our families and communities—your children—are watching and taking all of this in, too.
“Of course we all want to stay abreast of current events,” says developmental psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but when kids see footage of boys and girls their own age or even people who look like their grandparents in dire situations, it can be confusing and frightening.” But rather than brushing off catastrophic events as “nothing to worry about” or something that didn’t really happen, Dr. Bastiani Archibald suggests discussing the disaster in an age-appropriate way with your daughter. “Limit her access to the news, but if she’s already seen or heard about it, let her lead the conversation,” she suggests. “Stay calm—kids, especially younger ones, take their emotional cues from parents—and ask her what she thinks happened. But most of all, ask how she’s feeling. If she says she feels sad or frightened for the people affected, it’s absolutely fine to tell her that you feel sad and frightened for them, too. These feelings are nothing to be ashamed of, and knowing that you feel similarly will help her feel less alone.”
Respond to her questions as best you can with age-appropriate, short answers and limited information. Very young children might not have many or any questions, but older girls might ask about the particular type of threat, be it wildfires, weather or a different natural disaster. Do your best to use words your daughter might already know, like wind, ice, storm, snow, and cold—but explain that these are much stronger and heavier than usual.
Let her know that you’ll always do everything you can to keep her safe. And although you don’t want to give her false assurances that a natural disaster like the one she’s witnessing could never happen in your region, it’s also not helpful at this moment to dwell on the fact that it could. If she’s old enough to understand, let her know about the emergency preparations and procedures already in place for your family, your community, and even her school that could keep her out of harm’s way in case of an emergency. These plans are a “just in case” and will likely never be necessary, but her safety is your top priority, and so you make sure you’re prepared for any situation.
If your girl asks about family or friends who were directly affected, answer honestly but in short, direct answers. “If you’ve been in touch with loved ones in the area of the disaster, let your child know that and reinforce the positive—that they’re safe—if there’s positive information to report,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “In the case that you’re still trying to reach family and friends, let her know that you’re doing your best to connect with them and that there are good people on the ground in the affected area who are helping those in need. In fact, your loved ones might be busy helping take care of others right now.”
Beyond that, it’s helpful to explain to your girl what you and your community have already done or plan to do to help the people hardest hit in the disaster. Perhaps you’ve sent money to an aid organization to help families in need, or maybe a family member has traveled to the scene to offer medical assistance. “If your daughter is old enough, you might even want to have her help you research ways to lend a hand and give back,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. "We know donating money is often best, so she could play an active role in fundraising or researching organizations accepting donations. Additionally, she could look into alternative ways of helping—like fostering pets who may have been displaced in the disaster.”
Talk to her about the kinds of things people might need in the months and even years after a disaster. Perhaps families that lost most of their belongings could use new books and games to brighten their days. Or a Girl Scout troop in the disaster zone might appreciate replacement outdoor gear, art supplies, or even just notes of friendship and support in the months to come.
Getting involved, giving back, and making a difference are actions we all can and need to take when disaster strikes. Involving your daughter will not only potentially expand the impact you can make but also teach her about empathy and give her a sense of her power to do good in the world.
¿Regla número uno cuando se trata de emergencias? Mantenga la calma. Pero con el nuevo coronavirus (COVID-19) que se propaga rápidamente por todo el mundo, y todos, desde presentadores de noticias hasta la pareja a su lado en la pizzería local que hablan sobre los peores escenarios, el estrés y la preocupación pueden parecer francamente contagiosos.
Básicamente, es probable que su niña pudiera beneficiarse de una sensación de calma en su vida en este momento, y usted puede ayudarla.
De hecho, tener una conversación con ella sobre el coronavirus podría ser lo más importante que haga con su niña durante toda la semana. Dependiendo de su edad, el simple hecho de preguntarle qué ha escuchado sobre el coronavirus y cómo se siente al respecto no solo le ayudara a asegurarse de obtener la información correcta, sino que también le hace saber que este tema no está prohibido y que usted está allí para apoyarla y ayudarla entender sus emociones, sean lo que sean.
Aquí le ofrecemos algunas cosas que debe y no debe hacer cuando se trata de manejar este tema con cuidado.
SÍ hágale saber a su niña que sus sentimientos de miedo, tristeza, enojo e incluso confusión son totalmente normales en momentos como estos. A veces, saber que está bien hablar sobre sus sentimientos puede darle una sensación de calma.
NO comience la conversación preguntándole si está asustada o molesta. Si todavía no se siente así, ¡no hay necesidad de sugerir que debería hacerlo!
SÍ responda sus preguntas sobre cosas que está observando, como máscaras faciales, de una manera apropiada y precisa para su edad.
¡NO tenga miedo de admitir que no tiene todas las respuestas! A menos que sea un profesional médico y esté muy versado en situaciones como estas, es probable que no tenga todos los datos. ¿Qué tiene de su lado? Expertos que pueden ayudarle a usted y a su hija a entender las cosas. Diríjase a los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) y otros recursos confiables si alguna vez no está seguro de lo que está escuchando en las noticias o de lo que su niña está escuchando en el patio de recreo.
SÍ debe darle a su niña las herramientas para mantenerse lo más saludable posible. Según el CDC, lavarnos las manos adecuadamente, evitar tocarnos la cara, quedarnos en casa cuando estamos enfermos y cubrirnos la tos o los estornudos con un pañuelo desechable de inmediato, son cosas simples e inteligentes que podemos hacer para evitar la propagación de no solo el coronavirus sino también muchas otras enfermedades. Tomar medidas prácticas para protegerse puede darle a su niña una sensación de control en momentos en que podría sentir miedo.
NO haga la vista gorda a los estereotipos o generalizaciones que se han hecho sobre quién "comenzó" el coronavirus o quién podría tener más probabilidades de tenerlo. Lamentablemente, en tiempos de miedo, las personas a menudo buscan a alguien a quien culpar. Recuérdele a su niña que el color de la piel de una persona, el idioma que habla y el país del que proviene su familia no tienen nada que ver con la cantidad de respeto y amabilidad que merecen en este mundo y que no hay ningún tipo de persona con mayor probabilidad de tener o contraer el virus que otros.
SÍ hágale saber que, como siempre, cualquier contacto personal que tenga con otros debe regirse por su propio nivel de comodidad. Por ahora, es poco probable que se enferme por estrecharle la mano a un vecino o abrazar a un amigo, especialmente si se lava las manos regularmente, pero debe saber que siempre puede elegir omitir esos gestos si la hacen sentir incómoda o preocupada por cualquier motivo. Pero si la enfermedad se generaliza, es posible que desee hablar con ella acerca de minimizar el contacto físico (como dejar de estrechar la mano o evitar compartir alimentos de un envase compartido), de acuerdo con las pautas del CDC.
NO agregue a la cultura del pánico. Recuerde: su niña está tomando sus señales de usted. Si se mantiene nivelado, es más probable que ella también lo haga.
SÍ hágale saber que esta es una conversación que puede continuar a medida que pasan los días y las semanas. Si piensa en preguntas que olvidó hacer, usted estara allí para ayudarla. Y en el caso de que la situación con el coronavirus cambie y haya información diferente o actualizada que ella debería saber, se la presentará.
NO olvide el poder de lo básico. Mantener rutinas, incluidas las comidas, los rituales a la hora de acostarse y el tiempo de calidad familiar, puede ser una gran ayuda para mantener el mundo de su niña lo más tranquilo y estable posible.
¿Una dura verdad? Incluso los padres y cuidadores que suelen ser asombrosos para mantener la calma están teniendo dificultades en estos días.
No es sorprendente, por qué con el distanciamiento social vigente en muchas áreas del país y las personas enfermas por COVID-19, a millones de familias se les ha pedido que cambien drásticamente sus estilos de vida. No solo hay muchas personas trabajando desde casa, tratando de cumplir con los plazos y lucir por lo menos un poco presentables en videoconferencias con el jefe, sino que muchos de sus hijos también están en casa debido al cierre generalizado de las escuelas. Cuando todos están lidiando con sentimientos de ansiedad, miedo o incluso confusión en un espacio pequeño a la misma vez, los ánimos pueden calentarse fácilmente.
En un mundo ideal, mantendríamos la calma y estaríamos tranquilos. Pero el mundo está lejos de ser ideal. Por lo tanto, no se castigue demasiado a si mismo si le grito a los niños o reacciono de una forma exagerada ante el mal comportamiento de ellos, pero tampoco pretenda que no sucedió nada. Aquí hay tres formas en que puede hacer las paces con su hija y seguir adelante como una unidad familiar más fuerte y resistente que nunca.
Mas que nada, recuerde darse un poco de misericordia. Los días, semanas e incluso meses por delante pueden estar llenos de desafíos diferentes a los que hemos visto antes. No todos los días como padres serán perfectos (o incluso cercanos), y eso está bien. Todos estamos haciendo lo mejor que podemos y esperando un mañana más brillante y saludable para nuestras familias y para el mundo.
Mientras el CDC (Centros para el control y la prevención de enfermedades) continúa recomendando que se suspendan las reuniones de jugar en persona debido a la amenaza de COVID-19, definitivamente hay familias en todo el país que han decidido permitir que sus hijos jueguen con niños afuera de la familia. Explicarle a su niña que no va a dejar que ella se una a la diversión, especialmente si está mirando a los niños del vecindario jugar justo afuera de su ventana, puede ser desafiante y desgarrador.
Psicóloga del desarrollo, la Dra. Cyndy Karras, tiene algunos consejos prácticos para facilitar un poco esta situación difícil.
Reconozca su frustración
Perderse fechas divertidas de juego y aventuras con sus amistades, especialmente después de meses encerradas, es difícil para su hija. Nada de lo que usted pueda hacer o decir hará que eso desaparezca, pero la Dra. Karras tiene un simple consejo para superar esos momentos en que su niña se queja: escúchela y reconozca sus sentimientos. “Podría decirle algo como, te escucho. Es realmente difícil ver o escuchar que otros se divierten juntos cuando no puedes ser parte de eso. Hagamos una lista de cosas que podemos hacer juntos como familia y con amistades sin necesidad de reunirnos,” sugiere la Dra. Karras. Darle agencia sobre las actividades e ideas sobre cómo puede conectarse con otros le dará un sentido de control y la ayudara a sentirse menos decepcionada.
No diga cosas negativas de los vecinos
Nadie necesita más conflicto y drama en medio de una pandemia global. "Es posible que no esté de acuerdo con los padres que permiten que sus hijos se reúnan en persona,” dice la Dra. Karras, "pero tenga en cuenta las palabras que usa para hablar sobre como la decisión de su familia es diferente de la de los demás.” Ella sugiere explicarle a su niña que todas las familias tienen el derecho de tomar la decisión que les parezca adecuada, pero su familia está optando por continuar el distanciamiento social para mantenerse a sí mismos y a los demás seguros y saludables. "Trate de concentrarse en lo que usted y las personas de su hogar están haciendo en lugar de juzgar a las personas que su niña conoce y probablemente admira.”
Sumérjase en su mundo
Obviamente, ella no va a tener las mismas experiencias jugando y haciendo actividades con usted como lo haría con sus amistades, pero estar presente y tomar un papel más activo en su vida, siempre que sea posible, puede ayudar a que se sienta mejor a pesar de toda la diversión que se está perdiendo. La Dra. Karras sugiere decirle a su niña que sabe que no tiene su edad y que obviamente no puede reemplazar a sus amistades, pero que quiere hacer las cosas que le gustan, ya sea jugar su videojuego favorito, aprender los últimos bailes de TikTok, o construir la máquina Rube Goldberg más elaborada que se puedan imaginar. A su niña le encantará ser la experta y enseñarle a usted sobre sus intereses. También harán algunos recuerdos familiares increíbles en el proceso.
Sea paciente y honesto
Es probable que su niña se va a sentir triste a veces, pero eso es porque es humana y somos seres sociales por naturaleza. "Ser abierto, honesto y humano realmente ayuda a los niños a escucharlo y relacionarse con usted,” dice la Dra. Karras. "No hay necesidad de compartir información en exceso, pero decirle que también extraña a sus amistades también puede ayudarla a ver que sus sentimientos son normales y saludables, y que no es la única que se siente excluida en este momento.” Compartir su experiencia a un nivel apropiado para la edad de su niña la ayudará a ella crecer en empatía y puede generar una discusión sobre cómo pueden ayudarse mutuamente a superar esto como un equipo, porque eso es lo que las familias hacen mejor.
Your daughter’s imagination just be the most valuable thing she has. Not only does it lead to some super funny family moments—it helps her think big, aim higher, and achieve beyond her wildest dreams. It helps her see the possibility in every situation. And it just so happens that you, as her parent, have an amazing opportunity to help her develop her imagination and creativity right around the corner: Halloween.
That’s right. This annual celebration of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins is ideal for tapping into and encouraging your daughter’s natural creativity. “Not many parents realize this, but Halloween is more than just fun. It’s a valuable time of year for your girl’s development,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “It’s a time when she can actually ‘be’ whatever she wants and try out new roles, however briefly—whether that’s a favorite animal, a professional like a firefighter or an astronaut, a historic figure, a character she loves, or even a totally make-believe creature she thought up herself.”
Follow these tips to help your girl get the most out of this spookiest of seasons and have a blast this Halloween!
Give Her Time to Dream
Rather than picking a costume for your girl based on which one you think will look cutest, let her take the lead! Yes, taking her to the store and letting her choose from among the costumes available at least gives her a choice in the matter, but it still limits her choices to what some big marketing companies think your girl should want. So sit down with your girl and ask her, of all the things she can think of, what would she most like to be? Her answer might not be what you’d expect! Maybe she’ll want to be a pirate dinosaur or a doctor who’s also a fairy. The wonderful thing here is that there are no limits to her creativity. And if you already have her costume? Ask her questions about how she talks as this character or what she likes to do. Pretend play is a wonderful way to embrace her creativity.
Help Her Get Crafty
You do not have to be a sewing pro or Pinterest celebrity to pull this off! Encourage your girl to draw the costume she imagines, and then work with her to figure out ways to make her drawing come to life in a real costume that she can wear. Of course you can always purchase elements of her design if that’s more convenient (like a pirate eye-patch, a cat-ear headband, or a firefighter’s hat), but you should also encourage her to think of how she could use everyday items you have around your house—including paper towel tubes, old clothing, cardboard boxes, and other craft supplies—to create them herself. Not only will she feel a special sense of pride and accomplishment from making her own costume, she’ll also have fun, and (believe it or not!) get a taste of the world of STEM as she figures out what works and what doesn’t in building her costume. Don't have time to DIY the whole look? Help her make an accessory or two to go with her look. She'll have fun and feel extra proud to have made part of her costume herself.
Go With The Flow
If your girl decides at the last minute that she wants to rock a firefighter helmet with her princess dress or wear her soccer jersey over her giraffe suit, go with it. There's no right or wrong way to dress up on Halloween, even if you had a particular look in mind! Similarly, if your girl feels uncomfortable in her costume for some reason or isn't happy wearing it, there's no need to force the issue—even for a cute photo. This holiday should be about your girl having fun, so make sure your motivations and intentions are in the right place!
Algunas cosas obviamente no están bien. ¿Decirles comentarios o piropos malintencionados a las niñas de 11 años? (¿O a cualquier persona?) No está bien. ¿Enseñarles a las niñas que gorda es lo opuesto a lo bonito? No es genial, pero ¿qué hay de burlarse "amorosamente" de su niña sobre su cuerpo?
Algunas personas tienen dificultades con esto, e insisten en que es absolutamente aceptable, especialmente dentro de la familia, que se burlen de la forma de la cola de una niña, el tamaño de su pecho, su altura o su figura en general. Pero en serio necesitan una llamada de atención. No estamos diciendo que alguien haya hecho daño o haya tenido malas intenciones mientras bromeaba de esta manera. Lo que estamos diciendo es que estas acciones pueden causar daño y crear problemas de por vida relacionados con la autoestima, la confianza, la imagen corporal y el desarrollo emocional. Básicamente, estos chistes son lo contrario de inofensivos.
Aun así, todos hemos escuchado las excusas, así que vamos a explicar (y luego tirarlas a la basura, a donde pertenecen).
MALA RAZÓN # 1: “¡Pero ella se ríe! Todos se divierten. Está
Si usted es como mucha gente, es probable que se haya reído o sonreído a través de una situación que le hizo sentir incómodo o nervioso porque no sabías qué más hacer o no querías causar una escena y parecer grosero. Hay una buena probabilidad de que esto sea lo que su niña este haciendo cuando se enfrenta a bromas sobre su cuerpo.
MALA RAZÓN # 2: “¡Yo soportaba chistes como este cuando era
adolescente! Todos son demasiado sensibles hoy en día.”
El hecho de que algo fuera visto como aceptable entre ciertos grupos cuando usted o los abuelos de su hija eran jóvenes, esto no significa que fuera correcto. Nosotros, como sociedad, estamos trabajando para ser mejores, más amables y más acogedores para todas las personas todo el tiempo. Mantener sus labios cerrados alrededor de su cuerpo es una manera muy simple de ayudar.
MALA RAZÓN # 3: “Es solo su hermano el que se burla de ella. ¡Los
niños serán niños!”
No, no, no. Por favor no insulte la inteligencia emocional o la sensibilidad de su hijo. Tenemos que empezar a esperar más de los niños. Son tan capaces de ser amables, respetuosos y educados como las niñas, y es hora de dejar de permitirles un mal comportamiento. Permitir este tipo de burlas en su familia es hacer que su niña espere un mal trato de parte de los niños y los hombres en su vida, mientras que le enseña a su hijo que degradar a las mujeres y las niñas es completamente aceptable. Esencialmente, les harás un favor a todos cuando corte esto de raíz.
MALA RAZÓN #4: "¡Es solo su hermana la que la molesta! Ya
sabes cómo son las niñas.”
Aunque es cierto que las hermanas no siempre se llevan bien, las niñas ya tienen suficiente presión sobre sus cuerpos por la sociedad y no necesitan más presión por parte de sus hermanas. Si nota que una de sus niñas hace bromas sobre el cuerpo de la otra, hágala a un lado y pregúntele en privado por qué lo hace. Tal vez se sienta insegura con respecto a su propio cuerpo o celosa de cómo se ve su hermana. Incluso existe la posibilidad de que los niños en la escuela hagan comentarios sobre el cuerpo de su hermana o el de ella y que simplemente los esté repitiendo para encajar o sentirse “cool.” En cualquier caso, hágale saber que al igual que no está bien bromear sobre otras cosas que las personas no pueden controlar, como el color de su piel o el acento que tienen, nunca está bien bromear sobre su cuerpo.
MALA RAZÓN # 5: "¡Pero no quiero causar ningún
Las intenciones y acciones son dos cosas muy diferentes. El hecho de que no quiera causar daño no significa que las cosas que diga no sean perjudiciales. Si cree que las bromas sobre los cuerpos son tan divertidas, adelante, cuénteles sobre su propio cuerpo, es su derecho, pero deje a otras personas fuera de eso.
En las últimas semanas, miles de bebés, niños pequeños y adolescentes han sido separados de sus padres en la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México. Aunque estos eventos pueden ser conmovedores para aquellos que se preocupan por el bienestar de los niños, quienes son más vulnerables en todo esto son los propios muchachos. Más allá de los niños que están actualmente en centros de detención, los niños alrededor del país han estado expuestos a la cobertura de noticias y discusiones que pueden hacer que se sientan ansiosos, asustados y confundidos, preguntándose si ellos podrían ser los siguientes en preguntarse cuándo verán a sus seres queridos de nuevo.
"Cuando los niños escuchan o ven a niños que se ven como ellos o sus compañeros en situaciones peligrosas, ya sea después de un desastre natural, un tiroteo en una escuela o eventos como los que ocurren en la frontera en este momento, es natural que ellos se pregunten si ellos o sus amigos podrían sufrir el mismo destino,” dice la psicóloga del desarrollo de Girl Scouts, Andrea Bastiani Archibald. "Como padres y guardianes, nuestro papel es ayudarlos a navegar en este momento atemorizante con información honesta y apropiada para su edad, incluso si todavía estamos tratando de comprender la situación por nuestra cuenta.”
Aunque crea que estos temas son demasiado serios para discutir con su hija, o que ella no está al tanto de lo que está sucediendo, no es realista pensar que puedas protegerla de estos eventos por completo. Incluso si mantiene a su hija al margen de estas noticias, es probable que escuche sobre estos temas en las redes sociales, escuchando opiniones sobre la situación en las conversaciones de adultos e incluso discutiéndolas con sus amigos en la escuela.
"Cuando los niños solo obtienen una pequeña parte de la historia o han escuchado rumores de una fuente poco confiable, sus mentes tienden a saltar a las conclusiones más aterradoras,” dice la Dr. Bastiani Archibald. Como padres y guardianes, estas son algunas de las formas como pueden intervenir para apoyar a su niña.
El 19 de junio de 2018, Girl Scouts of the USA se unió a otros miembros de Leadership 18, una coalición de CEOs de algunas de las organizaciones sin fines de lucro más grandes e influyentes del mundo, para pedirle a la administración que detenga la póliza de inmigración "Cero tolerancia.” Lee más sobre la declaración de la coalición aquí.
En un mundo perfecto, los silbidos y otras formas de acoso
simplemente no existirían. Pero la verdad es que nuestro mundo está
lejos de ser perfecto. No solo las mujeres adultas se enfrentan a
comentarios aterradores y atención no deseada de forma regular, sino
que también las niñas jóvenes, como su hija, también lo hacen.
Hace dos años, un estudio mostró que una de cada diez niñas estadounidenses había sido piropeada antes de cumplir los 11 años. Así es, estamos hablando de estudiantes de cuarto grado que son molestadas por silbidos y potencialmente algo peor. Y ahora, un informe de 2017 muestra que más de una en cada seis niñas en la escuela primaria y secundaria han sido acosadas por motivos de género.
¿Por qué esto es tan importante? Vamos a contar las maneras. En primer lugar, según la Psicóloga de Desarrollo de Girl Scouts, la Dra. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “los piropos, y comportamientos llamativos y de objetivación pueden hacer que las niñas sientan que su valor radica únicamente en cómo se ven en oposición a lo que piensan o en lo que pueden lograr. Eso da inicio al efecto dominó en el cual las niñas experimentan la auto objetivación, se sienten excesivamente preocupadas por cómo se ven, comparen sus cuerpos con los de otras niñas y mujeres, e incluso juzguen a otras niñas por su apariencia.” Ser molestadas por piropos o silbidos, puede hacer que las niñas se sientan avergonzadas o amenazadas de sus cuerpos, como por ejemplo que tienen que ser muy cuidadosas cuando están en público. Ninguna de estas cosas es en las que alguien debería tener que gastar tiempo y energía pensando, y mucho menos una niña de 11 años.
Además, estudios han demostrado que las mujeres jóvenes tienen un desempeño significativamente peor en matemáticas después de ser objetadas por un miembro del sexo opuesto. Es decir, en un estudio controlado, cuando las mujeres fueron insultadas por un actor masculino que se hacía pasar por un compañero y luego tomaron un examen de matemáticas, obtuvieron muchas menos respuestas correctas en comparación con las mujeres que no habían experimentado primero la mirada objetivadora y sexualizada. ¿Quizás deberíamos agregar eso a la razón por la cual las niñas y las mujeres todavía están en la minoría en tantos campos de STEM (la ciencia, la tecnología, la ingeniería y las matemáticas).
Finalmente, todos estos "pequeños" comentarios sobre los cuerpos de las niñas y las mujeres contribuyen a una cultura en la que se considera que el cuerpo femenino está disponible, tanto literalmente como figurativamente. Cuando se considera aceptable o por lo menos inofensivo la “conversación de vestuario” sobre los cuerpos de las niñas, los límites comienzan a desdibujarse aún más, poniendo a las niñas en riesgo de enfrentarse a comportamientos físicos agresivos además de las burlas verbales. ¿Un ejemplo concreto? Un estudio reciente mostró que más de una en cada cinco niñas de 14 a 18 años han sido besadas o tocadas sin su consentimiento.
"Más allá de establecer el estándar dañino que las niñas y las mujeres valen poco más que los cuerpos físicos que tienen para ofrecer, cuando simplemente descartamos a los piropos como “los niños siendo niños "o" los hombres siendo hombres,” en realidad confunde a los niños, haciéndolos pensar que la masculinidad y la agresión va de la mano, y esto le da un mal nombre a todos los hombres, muchos de los cuales admiran y respetan a las mujeres,” dice la Dra. Bastiani Archibald.
Esencialmente, los piropos o silbidos son dañinos, atemorizantes y
podrían estarle sucediendo a su hija, o al menos a una de sus amigas.
Dicho esto, lo último que deben hacer ustedes como padres cuando se
trata de todo esto es fingir que no está sucediendo. Sí, estos pueden
no ser los temas más cómodos para pensar o discutir, pero
"proteger" a su niña de estas verdades reales puede ponerla
en un riesgo aún mayor. Así que aquí hay 6 cosas que puede (y debería)
hacer para ayudar a proteger a su hija y luchar contra estos
Aunque no podamos oprimir un botón y crear un mundo libre de acoso para nuestras niñas, sabemos que ignorar los piropos malintencionados o las risas contribuye a una cultura en la que tal comportamiento se considera normal e incluso aceptable. Su hija, y todos nosotros, merecemos algo mejor que eso.
Ya sea que su niña tenga práctica de fútbol a mitad de la semana, clases de baile dos veces por semana, grupo de estudio SAT o sea niñera todos los miércoles por la noche, hay una cosa que siempre tiene que encajar entre sus cosas: su tarea. Dependiendo del nivel de grado de su hija y del tipo de asignaturas que esté estudiando, esa tarea puede durar de quince minutos a unas cuantas horas. Y lo bien que lo haga ella probablemente afectará ese intervalo de tiempo, y sus calificaciones, también.
Ya que su tiempo es muy valioso (¡acabemos de hacer esto, ¿no?), y ya que sus calificaciones probablemente serán un factor muy importante para ingresar a la universidad, es posible que sienta la necesidad de ayudarla con la dirección de las respuestas correctas o incluso de participar y completar parte de algún proyecto que ella ha llevado a casa. Por lo general, esa no es una gran idea.
“Los maestros usan la tarea para medir lo que su niña ha aprendido y cuánto puede hacer sola después de una lección,” dice la psicóloga de desarrollo de Girl Scouts, la Dra. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. "Si usted ha intervenido y hecho parte del trabajo usted mismo, su maestra no entenderá que su hija necesita ayuda adicional y puede pensar que es apropiado avanzar a lecciones más avanzadas para las que su niña no está lista.” Esencialmente, los maestros no pueden llenar los vacíos en el conocimiento de su niña a menos que sepan cuales son en primer lugar.
Además, es importante para ella saber que no siempre hará las cosas bien la primera vez, y que el éxito viene con la persistencia y el trabajo duro. Si usted la está ayudando, ella tampoco está recibiendo esa importante lección.
¿Y en cuanto a tratar de llenar esos vacíos enseñándole una o dos cosas usted mismo? La Dra. Bastiani Archibald dice que realmente puede perjudicar a su niña al tratar de enseñarle cómo resolver un problema de una tarea usted mismo. "La maestra de su hija podría enseñar un método diferente al que usted aprendió en la escuela, y el mostrarle una manera diferente de hacer el trabajo puede confundirla o hacerla perder el aprendizaje de su aula".
Dicho esto, si ve que ella está realmente luchando o siente la
necesidad de trabajar en un concepto o dos con su hija, haga una nota
en la tarea que diga que ella ha estado teniendo problemas o que ha
recibido ayuda de los padres y considere programar una reunión con su
maestra para discutir si la tarea está o no está a nivel de su hija.
Una conversación inicial entre ustedes puede sentar las bases para una
asociación real y ayudarlo a comprender las formas en que puede apoyar
lo que su niña está aprendiendo en la escuela.
Por encima de todo, lo mejor que usted puede hacer como padre para ayudar a su hija con su tarea, es preguntarle en qué está trabajando ya que explicarle el proyecto a otras personas puede mejorar su proceso de aprendizaje, asegurarse de que tenga un lugar limpio y ordenado para trabajar (si ella no tiene un escritorio propio, ¡la mesa de la cocina estará bien!) y para asegurarse de que no se distraiga durante el tiempo que ha designado para la tarea, es mejor que no tenga acceso a la televisión, ni el internet en general, a menos que se esté utilizando para investigación.
"Usted no tiene que ser super educado para ser un gran aliado en el éxito académico de su hija,” dice la Dra. Bastiani Archibald. "Interesarse en su trabajo y darle el espacio y el tiempo que necesita puede parecer demasiado simple, pero en realidad, es lo que todos los niños necesitan para aprender.”
No matter which political party is in power, the basic mechanisms of U.S. government are consistent. However, many American adults can’t correctly identify foundational aspects of our system of government, and when it comes to civics education for kids, parents may be surprised to learn that the classroom alone is unlikely to close the gap in understanding.
The numbers confirm it.
Everyone deserves an equal chance to participate in the democratic process and create the country they want to see—and in order to get there, all people need to understand their rights and responsibilities and how our system of government works.
To help girls get an early start and build a solid foundation, GSUSA is offering free downloads—available to all girls, not just Girl Scouts—of its Democracy badge booklets from January 21 through February 4, 2021.
Although too many of today’s young people lack a comprehensive civics education, youth care deeply about fixing the problems they see. A recent Girl Scout Research Institute study tells us that girls especially care about creating a society that truly offers equal opportunity for all.
According to a survey conducted after the 2020 election by the nonpartisan Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement:
So what can you do to make sure your girl is prepared to help make her community, her country, and her world a better place?
A democracy that gives all an equal voice isn’t a guarantee; it’s something we have to actively work toward. We can all play our part to ensure the next generation is ready to take up the mantle.
Whenever we see injustice, we all have a responsibility to confront it. Every day, no matter our background or our age, every single one of us has a role to play in taking on an unfair system while working to build a new one that truly works for all. Guiding our girls in learning to recognize and challenge structures and practices that fuel inequality and cause harm helps them play an active role in creating the positive change our society needs.
While we should be having conversations about race and racism regularly, checking in with your girl is crucial when racist violence claims lives and sparks widespread protest, grief, and unrest around the nation. Kids of all ages, backgrounds, and skin tones are feeling a range of emotions in response. They’re sad, scared, angry, and confused.
What’s the number-one thing that can help your girl process these feelings? Talking with an adult she trusts and loves—you—and then finding ways to take positive action.
It may be tempting to avoid the topic of race and racism altogether—especially for those who were taught it’s something that isn’t polite to discuss—but statistics show that justice, health, and education systems aren’t fair in basic ways that can negatively affect a girl’s life on a foundational level. Her family, education, safety, and well-being make these conversations a must for those who support a just and equal world for all girls.
Having honest discussions about race is important for all families,
and it’s vital to have them on a regular basis, even if you find it
uncomfortable or you think your kids already know about racism and
understand right from wrong. Yet while the discussion is great, it’s
only one part of it. It’s also important to look at how your girl’s
life is structured and lived every day. Who does she see in her
neighborhood, at school, and in positions of power around her?
So, how do you begin?
Be straightforward, ask questions, and listen to her.
For starters, don’t avoid the topic. Pressing mute can make your girl think that talking about race and racism is off-limits or that the status quo is acceptable, when real conversation on these topics is actually what she needs most and what will help you both be part of the solution.
In fact, "choosing" whether to talk to your kids about racism and its consequences is not a decision every family gets to make. It’s often a necessary, even life-saving, conversation from the earliest ages, especially for black families and other families of color.
Trish Tchume, who works on racial justice issues across communities, remembers her mom initiating a conversation with her when she was just five or six years old about how, as a black girl, she would be treated differently than her white friends.
"She was telling me that when I was with my mostly white friends at the mall or out at the pool, they’d come up with ideas of ways to test boundaries that might be harmless for them, but that would not be harmless for me. She was telling me to think and be more careful because black kids—and adults, too—are treated differently than white kids when they talk back to authority figures or break the rules" like all kids do at some point.
"My mom wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings, she was trying to keep me safe," she adds.
You don’t need a big speech. Ask what she’s seen and heard and listen to what she says. Let her know that whatever she’s feeling is OK, including if she’s scared, uncomfortable, or angry.
"You might think she’ll feel more afraid if you admit you don’t have all the answers, but in my experience with kids, and in fact all humans, people feel comforted and better supported when they’re met with honesty and emotion," says Ms. Tchume.
Teach her to identify racism.
To make discussion about race and racism a part of "normal" conversation in your home, start when your kids are young. According to Dr. Erin N. Winkler, who studies talking with children about race, it’s never too early to start.
Young children start to reflect the bias prevalent in their society. In the U.S. that often means a bias toward whiteness.
"If you look at the media they are consuming and what comes out of that—the princess or character they want to be for Halloween for example—you can see that it starts early," says Dr. Winkler.
So, what can you do? It’s important to pay attention to what’s in your home. Having toys, books, and shows you watch that feature diverse characters in a variety of roles can help balance a narrative from society that often only places white characters at the center.
Talking about who’s left out and who’s included, and how they’re
treated when they are included, is important. When you read a book or
watch TV with your girl, are the characters diverse? If there are
Black, Latinx, Native American, or Asian American Pacific Islander
characters, how are they portrayed? Are they in a lead role? Do they
reflect stereotypes or do they have dimension? Beyond characters in
books and movies, when she’s in school and learning about history,
whose history is she learning about?
Whenever you’re met with exclusion based on race, ask if she thinks that’s fair, how it makes her feel, and how your family might work together to fight these everyday types of racism.
"Fairness is a really great way into this topic with kids. It’s a concept they understand," says Dr. Winkler.
Teach her the value of diversity and inclusion, and to
embrace our differences.
Saying "we’re all the same" or "I don’t see color" might be well-intentioned, but it perpetuates racism because it disregards part of people’s identities. Plus, saying everyone is the same implies that everyone has the same experiences and is treated the same in our society—which statistics and the everyday discrimination faced by Black people and other people of color show isn’t the case.
Instead, talk with your girl about how we can honor and celebrate our differences, and about how we all, with our unique backgrounds and experiences, bring beauty to the world in so many different ways.
"I’m proud and excited to be Black. Anything that causes another person to erase a part of who they are to fit in, to be seen, to be loved? That’s not good or helpful," says Ms. Tchume.
Empower her to challenge racism when she sees it.
Racism isn’t always violent or overt. It appears in many forms, and it is rooted in the false belief that the white experience is standard and that white people are superior to others.
Your community and what she sees every day in her world counts.
"It’s not just what you say, it’s also what you do and what she sees and the way everyday life is set up for her. What does she hear at school? Who does she see in your neighborhood? Kids take all of that in and learn by seeing what’s around them. It influences how they see race," says Dr. Winkler.
Also, some parents approach racism as a "settled issue," when it’s still very much an issue in the everyday lives of many families.
Racism didn’t end with the Civil Rights Movement. Showing kids that people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, as well as everyday people who’ve taken action against injustice, had roles in making change can help them understand we all have a role to play and that they can help make things better, says Dr. Winkler. It empowers them. "Teaching them to look for the people in the community who are helping, and showing them that there are people out there committed to making change now is also a great way" to engage kids.
Learn and take action together.
Although families of different backgrounds come to these conversations from different places, one thing that can help many parents and caregivers is educating themselves to increase their understanding and comfort level, says Dr. Winkler. "If you can’t explain systemic racism to other adults, it might be hard to explain it to young children in a way that feels right to you."
Ms. Tchume suggests being open and talking with your girl about the fact that you’re learning at the same time she is. Seeing that grownups don’t have all the answers either, and that you often have to do some work to find out the best ways to help, will show her that making meaningful change takes patience and dedication.
You can also talk with her about actions you’re taking for positive change as an adult, including voting. Let her know about things she can do or that you can do together as a family. Writing letters to your elected representatives urging them to support anti-racist policies (and holding them accountable for their actions) and connecting with groups in your community that are working for equality are just a few of the many ways you and your girl can help build a just world for all.
Here are some additional resources to support you:
There are few topics more complex than race in the U.S. The resources and conversation starters above represent just that—a start. We’re committed to continuing the conversation by bringing a range of voices to the table, listening to each other, educating ourselves, and recognizing that we all start from different places. We all have a role to play in bringing about the world we want to see for our girls. Join us in the effort. —The Raising Awesome Girls team.
Cool girls change the world. And while your cool girl has dreams of making her impact as a groundbreaking artist, a business mogul, a scientist, or even as President of the United States, there’s no reason for her to wait to start affecting positive change.
Naturally, there are many ways your girl can take action in your community, but one of the most concrete ways is by attending and participating in city council meetings. After all, it’s in those meetings that local laws (sometimes called city code or ordinances) are decided, the local budget is set, and public health and safety concerns are addressed.
And while a lot of people talk about what they’d like to see happen in the world, it’s the cool girls who actually take action to make those ideas and dreams come true. So if there’s something in your town that your girl wants to see improvements on—whether it’s the local library getting more up-to-date books, the park getting cleaned up, or any other project—it might sound odd, but her city council meeting is the place to be.
That said, if you’re like a lot of Americans, there’s a good chance you’ve never been to a city council meeting yourself and might not be sure how to prepare your girl to attend. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to take the guesswork out of the equation and make her (and your!) experience as smooth, effective, and dare we say fun as possible.
Why Is This Such a Hot Spot
The coolest thing about City Council meetings is that anyone—yes, even teens and younger kids—can review the meeting’s agenda in advance, request a speaker card or add their name and topic to the meeting’s agenda, and then speak at the actual meeting about whatever project or issue they feel strongly about. That means your girl (Or you! Or both of you!) can have the attention of your local government to support what you think is going right or to challenge ideas and plans that you disagree with. And when your daughter has a totally new idea she wants to bring up? This is the place for that, too!
This is a big deal because when city council members help to propose new laws, vote on which ones will go into effect, and plan the budget that determines how the city will spend its money, they’re supposed to represent the people who live locally. And this can be difficult when you consider that while women and girls generally make up half of our population, only about one third of local city council members in our country’s top 100 cities are female. That means male-dominated city councils may not naturally consider issues from a girl’s point of view—and makes it even more important for your daughter to stand up, represent, and let them know how she feels about the issues that affect her.
What’s the Gift with Purchase?
Influencing major policy in your town is obviously the main reason to show up to City Council Meetings, but there are other perks that go along with attendance. The sheer experience of speaking in front of influential people—who are connected to even more influential people at the state and national levels—can give your girl a hefty dose of self-confidence. Think of it this way—if she’s speaking her mind to city council members as a teen or tween, introducing herself to new friends, speaking up in class, or even negotiating job offers will come that much easier to her in the future.
Who knows? After going to City Council meetings at a young age, perhaps your daughter will grow up and want to run for local office, helping to even up the gender gap, and making an even bigger difference in her community.
Where Do We Show Up?
All city councils across the country (in some areas, they’re called Town Council, Board of Supervisors, or the Planning Commission) are required to hold public meetings. The time and location, as well as the proposed agenda, are usually posted on your city or town’s website at least a few weeks ahead of time to give everyone plenty of time to plan. While some of these meetings may be held in the afternoon, many are held in the evenings to make it easier for people to attend after work and school hours are over.
Who Runs the City Council Meetings?
City council meetings are run by council members who’ve been elected by local residents. Note that these people can also be called aldermen, selectmen, freeholders, or commissioners, depending on the term used in your area.
What’s a City Council Meeting Like?
There might be an opening prayer at the start of the meeting, then the Pledge of Allegiance will be recited just like in your girl’s school. From there, someone will likely go over the “minutes” of the previous meeting. You know how a lot of TV shows start with a recap of last week’s episode? Same idea.
After that, there may be many agenda items including updates from committees who are dedicated to certain types of issues. The truth is that because the City Council oversees a wide array of issues, their meetings can stretch to be pretty long depending on how long the council members want to discuss them. Know that ahead of time and consider bringing quiet distractions for your girl if she’s too young to focus the entire time. Coloring books or embroidery floss to make friendship bracelets can keep your child occupied and help the time fly by faster without causing much distraction.
As mentioned, City Council meetings can be pretty long, and they’re not usually very action-packed—but they are one of the most direct and effective opportunities you and your girl have to make an impact on your town, city, and even state and country.
A lot of us were raised in what some might call the school of hard knocks. When we complained that a situation wasn’t fair, parents, teachers, or other adults would all-too-often shrug their shoulders and tell us that life wasn’t fair. That we should just accept things the way they were, even when we had an inkling there was potential for change.
What’s the problem with that? Well, for starters, everything.
While it’s true that lots of things in life aren’t fair, we can—and actually have a responsibility to—work toward making things better, more equitable, and just. Telling kids they’re powerless in the face of injustice isn’t just disempowering, it’s ultimately not true. Every person, regardless of their age, has the ability to stand up for what’s right and help the world become a more equal and fair place.
So what should you do when a girl in your life complains that something isn’t fair? And how can you support her as she learns how to stand up to injustices in the world? This guide can help you raise girls who fight for what’s right and make the world a more fair and equal place.
Beyond all of these things? If your girl doesn’t think the decisions being made by the people in charge are fair or effective, she can work toward becoming one of the people in charge herself! Getting involved in student government, either by running for office yourself or by supporting another candidate, is a solid first step in that process. Encourage her to explore those opportunities and more.
The bottom line is that whenever any of us see something that’s unfair or unjust, it simply means we have work to do to make things right. Help your daughter understand her agency. Saying “life’s not fair” won’t fix a thing.
School dress codes aren’t anything new, but the buzz, drama, and downright controversy swirling around them in recent years has put a major spotlight on what your daughter can—and more pointedly, can’t—wear to class. Stories about middle- and high-school girls being pulled out of class for wearing shorts that are deemed too short or shirt straps that are seen as too thin are making headlines, going viral, and prompting many girls and adults to question whether or not these wardrobe rules are fair.
But what happens when dress codes go from simply a buzzy topic you hear about in the news to an issue that’s directly affecting your girl and her friends? Check out these tips from Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald on how to deal when your daughter is upset about her school’s dress code:
Get Her to Talk
“If your daughter thinks the rules are inappropriate, hear her out—whether you agree with her or not,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. Get the conversation going by asking her what feels unfair about the rules. Is it the dress code itself, or how it’s enforced? Are some girls called out while others aren’t? Are the rules as strict for boys as they are for girls? Are there parts of the dress code, perhaps some that relate to safety concerns, that she does think are reasonable? What does she think should change?
Get Her to Question
Rather than telling your girl that rules are rules whether they’re unfair or not, recognize this as a great opportunity for her to engage in civic action and stand up for what she believes in. The world never changes if people just shrug their shoulders and accept status quo! “Questioning school rules—whether or not they’re fair, why they exist, and whether or not they serve the purpose they were intended to— sets your daughter up to be an active member of our society as she gets older,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “We need more leaders who take the time to not just think about why rules and systems are the way they are, but also how they can be improved and made better for everyone."
Get Her to Act
Girls around the country aren’t simply complaining about their schools’ dress codes or how they’re enforced in the classroom. They’re taking action. By organizing, advocating for herself through student government, showing up at parent-teacher nights, and even speaking at school board meetings, your daughter can take a stand, raise awareness, and possibly change the rules. And regardless of the outcome of her actions, simply taking these steps of advocacy will teach her how to use her voice and get involved in her community. And that is a pretty awesome thing, no matter where you stand on the issue!
Being able to ask thoughtful questions of others and then actively listen to their answers is a skill that will help your girl make and keep meaningful relationships (nobody wants to chat with someone who only talks about themselves!) while understanding and respecting different points of view. It will also set her apart in the workplace, where she’ll need both technical skills and social smarts to get along with others and work as a team.
Thanksgiving is actually the perfect time to practice both asking questions and active listening. Between blood relatives visiting from out of town and good friends popping by for a slice of pie, these are the people you value most and want her to be close to throughout her life. Plus, because she probably knows most of the people gathered for the holidays, she’ll feel a bit more confident and comfortable striking up conversations with them than she might with someone new. It’s always easiest learning to do new things when you know you’re surrounded by love and support!
Before Thanksgiving, ask your girl these four questions, and then have her ask them of people at your family gathering. Younger girls, or those who tend to be shy, may prefer writing their questions on index cards so they can have a backup in case they forget at the moment!
After the leftovers are packed up and all the dishes are done, ask your girl to tell you about some of the best or most interesting answers she heard. It’s a wonderful way to reminisce and experience the warmth of the season¾and you just might learn a thing or two about your loved ones along the way!
While respect should be second nature to us (Aretha made darn sure we knew how to spell it and practice it), there seems to be a major deficit of it in our world today. From mean tweets to cliquish behavior on the playground, respect is plainly overdue for a comeback. The good news is that you can play a big role in starting a respect revolution just by modeling respect for yourself and teaching your girl to follow suit.
Here are 7 simple ways you can teach your girl to be more respectful today:
And finally, how can your girl get more respect in her life? Talk to her about the word integrity. Someone who has integrity is honest, is true to their word, does the best they can, and owns up to their shortcomings without making excuses, covering it up, or passing the blame onto someone else. Nobody’s perfect, but when your girl lives her life with integrity, she’ll earn others’ respect and be able to feel good about who she is as a person—and she’ll make others feel better in the process.
Strong girls are truly having a moment right now. Whether it’s physically strong teens, like Bianca Andreescu dominating on the tennis court, or emotionally strong female sexual abuse survivors calling for justice, today’s girls are showing us all just how many varieties of strength exist in the world.
But in a society where girls and women have been told for so long to let the boys and men in their lives literally do the heavy lifting—and where women are still being shown as damsels in distress in movies and TV shows—the act of actually being strong can be tricky for girls who are exploring the world and discovering who they are.
Can she be strong and pretty at the same time? If she speaks out and stands up to bullies, can she still be seen as sweet and lovable? The answer is a resounding yes—especially because today’s gender identities are more fluid than ever, and the walls of what’s “for boys” versus “for girls” are coming down fast—but that might not be obvious to your girl. Here are four simple ways you can help her embrace her inherent strength today.
When your teen finally lands her first job, it’s a big moment. Even if she’s gotten an allowance in the past, having someone else besides the people who love her recognize her potential is a huge vote of confidence. But beyond the extra spending money, your girl can gain so much from this experience.
Confidence: There’s nothing like hearing those magic words—“You got the job!” Knowing that someone has faith in her abilities offers a big boost of self-confidence. Going through the job application process and interviews takes a lot of work and practice. Learning how to conduct herself during interviews gives her the self-assurance to rock the next opportunity, and the one after that, until she lands her dream job. Tell her to think of each interview and job like building muscle; it takes time, but the more effort she puts in, the more she’ll see strength and growth.
Humility: As she learns to trust her abilities and see the value of what she can bring to a work environment, your girl will also be working! And, let’s face it, even summer jobs that seem like fun come with a few less-than-glamorous tasks. Although she might not look forward to cleaning up after messy café customers, stocking museum restrooms, or sweeping up the gym locker room at the end of her shift, these responsibilities show her that sometimes the hardest work is the least recognized and to respect the behind-the-scenes workers who keep so many businesses running by taking care of the nitty gritty.
Time management: This is a major life skill that many adults still have to master! Explain to your girl that little things like showing up on time are so important. People count on her to be there when she’s supposed to. Suggest that she give herself extra time to get ready, even if that means she arrives a little early. She can use the extra time to prepare for her shift so she’s not rushing in at the last minute. Stress that being late, more than making her look unprofessional, signals that she doesn’t have respect for other people’s time. It’s simply a bad look, whether she’s heading to a morning meeting with colleagues or meeting friends for pizza.
Focused ambition: Dreaming of the field she wants to pursue when she’s older and actually trying her hand at it are two very different things. If her summer job does give her a window into the career she’s set her sights on, she’ll have the chance to learn more about the different jobs available and what goes into each one. Whether she comes out on the other side even more excited to follow this path or is not sure it’s for her anymore, knowledge and experiences are power and will help her make smart decisions about where she wants to go next. Meanwhile, having a summer job that isn’t in any way connected to her dreams can be extremely valuable, too! She might discover a whole new field she’s passionate about or simply learn that certain types of jobs are less fulfilling to her than she’d like.
Navigating relationships with coworkers: All (or most) jobs come with coworkers. Although it’s an amazing opportunity for your girl to meet people she wouldn’t normally cross paths with, in terms of age, background, and personality, she may also discover that not all people work seamlessly together at first. Figuring out how to handle conflict in a direct yet respectful manner will serve her well in high school and beyond. Urge her to be professional, even with people at work who get on her nerves. That said, let her know that if a situation escalates to a point where a colleague or even her boss is making her feel unsafe, she should remove herself from the situation as soon as possible and tell you or another trusted adult. Workplace harassment and abuse of power are unfortunately very real threats, and your girl needs to know that she doesn’t have to put up with inappropriate behavior, even from someone who’s paying her.
A sense of her place in society: There’s nothing like getting your first paycheck—and then looking at how much you get to take home after taxes. While that can be a bummer at first, when your girl brings home her first paycheck, it might be worth explaining to her what everything on it means. Let her know that her tax money goes toward improving schools, building better roads, and even funding some museums and cultural events. Learning where her money goes makes sense of the system and might also peak her interest in local politics, because politicians usually decide where all that money ends up!
Financial responsibility: Understanding how much work goes into her earning an hourly wage will likely be an eye-opener. Not only will it teach her the value of money but it also might make her rethink purchases she once considered essential. If she doesn’t already have a bank account, go with her to set up a checking and savings account so she can deposit her money. Most banks allow you to link your accounts to a teenager’s so you and she can track her savings and spending together.
Real-life job skills: Many adults struggle with simple things, like talking on the phone with clients or even speaking up during team meetings. By starting early and developing good habits, these kinds of skills will be second nature by the time your girl gets her first job out of school. Explain to her the importance of professionalism; even if the situation feels casual, she’ll benefit from treating it like a serious responsibility. Let her know that you are happy to practice with her, or suggest that she ask her boss for pointers. Getting her to feel comfortable putting in extra effort will stay with her for a lifetime.
An edge on college applications: Believe it or not, college admissions teams love seeing students who’ve successfully held jobs during high school. Why? Because they know the benefits those young people have gained from the experience! Colleges and universities want students with good grades and high test scores for sure, but they also value applicants who are dependable, have solid follow-through, and have already learned some of life’s lessons on the job.
So whatever your girl’s first summer job might be, resist the urge to value her experience in terms of dollars and cents, and be there for her as she learns the ropes of her new workplace. This is an exciting time in her life that she can use to set the stage for so many successes to come.
Lifeguard, camp counselor, or dog walker—whatever first job she’s dreaming of probably seems so exciting and fun. She’ll meet new people, get to try her hand at new skills, and earn some extra cash that can help pay for summer fun or be put toward her college education. Sweet! But before she can reap the rewards of her summer job, she has to get one first. Here’s how to help her get started:
Help her come up with a list
We all know that not all work is fun, but wouldn’t it be great if she could get a summer job she loved or could help her explore a career field she may be interested in? Sit down with her and help her figure out her strengths and interests. Maybe she already makes a mean sundae and would love to learn how to churn a batch of ice cream. Perhaps she can program the household electronics without glancing at a manual and would love to help others with their tech issues. Helping her figure out what she’d be interested in and what she’s already good at will narrow her search.
The next step is logistics. If she can’t drive just yet, make sure you both agree on how she’ll get to this new gig. If she needs to take public transit, help her see how that cost impacts her take-home salary. Distance will also help narrow down the list of potential employers. As she identifies possibilities, have her write up a list of options with the website, email, and phone number of each place.
Teach her to network
You might think her network is small at the moment, but she knows more people than you think! Explain to her that networking is basically reaching out to people you have relationships with who would be willing to vouch for her. She should let teachers, neighbors, friend’s parents, Girl Scout troop leaders, and coaches know she’s on the job hunt. You never know who might know of the perfect gig.
Make sure she asks a few trusted adults in her circle if they would be OK with being her reference—but don’t limit her list to just grownups! Even peers about her age that already have jobs can put in a good word to their bosses if they think your girl could be a fit.
Write a perfect resume
Believe it or not, she should have a resume handy even if this is her very first summer job. Just like any professional resume, it should start with her name and contact information at the top, list her grade and the school she currently attends and any prior “starter” jobs (e.g., babysitting, plant watering, dog walking). She can then list any extra curricular activities that will enable the reader to get to know her and some responsibilities she’s taken on. Sit down with her and have her write down any special awards or achievements she’s received through school or in the community. Make sure she’s not humble or shy! Did she get a perfect attendance certificate last year? That’s going to let employers know she’s reliable! Was she on student council? That shows awesome leadership!
Also have her think about what experience she has that’s related to the job she’s applying for. If she’s taken classes, earned a certificate, or even worked a badge in Girl Scouts that gave her relevant skills, make sure that’s included in her resume. These are the details that could go in a cover letter or email to her potential boss that will set her apart from the crowd and give her an edge when it comes to getting the perfect summer job!
Put herself out there
Encourage her to either stop in to a few places to pick up applications or call to see if they’re looking for help. It’s best if she approaches the hiring manager or whoever’s handling applications herself—having a parent or caregiver ask on her behalf doesn’t exactly make your girl seem independent and capable! Larger chain stores (and some mom and pops) use online job applications, so have her ask about that as well.
To make sure she’s on point and professional when she starts putting out feelers, do a test run or two at home where you role play the manager and she gets to perfect her introduction, handshake, and practice any questions she’d like to ask.
If she’s applied to a few places and hasn’t heard back after a week or so, encourage her to follow-up by letting managers know that she’s still interested and looking forward to learning more about the possibility of working with them.
Nail the interview
Once she gets a few applications out there, she might be asked to meet for a job interview. Talk to her about the purpose of an interview (it doesn’t mean she has the job yet!) and be sure to let her know that a job needs to be a fit for both the employer and employee.
Before the interview, she should make a list of questions she’d like to ask about the job besides just how much it pays! Perhaps she wants to ask about mentorship opportunities or even ask the manager what she likes about her own job, which can tell you a lot about the working environment. She should also think of answers to the questions they’re likely to ask her, such as why she wants the job, what are her biggest strengths, and why she would be the best choice for the job.
On the day of the interview, she should dress neatly, professionally, and appropriately for the job—there’s no need to wear a suit if she’s up for a job at the local comic book store, but wearing a clean, slightly dressier than usual outfit is always a good bet.
After the interview, encourage her to send a thank you email or note card to the person she met with. It might seem old-fashioned, but being polite and taking the time to follow up show professionalism and will remind the team of what a great candidate she is.
Set her expectations
Getting a job isn’t always easy! Some larger corporations aren’t allowed to hire part-time, or don’t have roles appropriate for students. Other companies and local shops may already have all the staff they need. But let her know that “no” shouldn’t stop her in her tracks. If a potential employer says she’s not the right fit or that they don’t have anything right now, tell her to thank them anyway and ask that they keep her name on file for the future. They may not call her back, but it will give her firsthand job-hunting experience that will give her confidence in the years to come.
A wonderful problem
But what if she gets more than one job offer? In that case she should respond graciously and thank the managers for their offers and then ask if she can have a day or two to get back to them. Compare location, hours, and pay, along with the job responsibilities to figure out which one will be the best fit. Once she chooses one, let her know that she needs to let any other establishments that made offers know that while she’s flattered by their offer she is taking another job.
Creating positive and professional job searching habits will stick with your girl well into adulthood!
For many girls, riding a bike is their first small taste of freedom. There’s nothing like the exhilaration of wheeling a bike out of the garage on a cloudless summer day to cruise around the neighborhood, hair whipping in the wind and streamer handle bars fluttering.
But when your girl rides a bike, it’s more than just a fun way to pass the time—a bike is actually one of her first teachers. Achievements like learning to ride a two-wheeler and retiring her training wheels become lessons in not only balance but also tenacity and grit; a way for her to see the benefit of falling down and getting back up again. Navigating her way a few houses down on her bike teaches street smarts and the importance of personal safety.
From ages three to nine, boys and girls ride bikes at about the same rate. But the bad news is that by age 10, girls’ bike riding drops off considerably. By adulthood? Women make up only about 25 percent of bike riders.
And when girls start hanging up their helmets, they’re getting left in the dust, both literally and figuratively. The exercise and outdoor time that bike riders experience boosts moods, fights obesity, and increases overall health. Plus? A recent study showed girls who either bike or walk at least 15 minutes to school scored higher on cognitive tests. Who knew getting her on a bike could help her be healthier, happier, and smarter?
But beyond that, turning her back on bike-riding can stunt your girl’s confidence and independence. Without bikes, girls have to rely on parents, siblings, or older friends with cars to get them from point A to point B instead of being in charge of their own transportation. That seemingly little glitch can take her confidence down a notch and make her see herself as less capable—not exactly what anyone’s wishing for their girl.
A recent study cites several reasons for the attitude shift, ranging from a lack of confidence when riding alone to the fear of traffic to the more superficial, like not wanting to wear a helmet. The study also points to a more concerning change in thought processes: worries about being sweaty in public, not seeming “cool” or “feminine,” and how she looks when she’s exercising. Another factor? Parents are often more cautious with their girls than boys when it comes to physical activities, telling their boys to have fun while they tell their girls to be careful.
But here’s how to help your girl gain the confidence she needs to keep riding! The younger you get her hooked on bike riding, even if it’s just in the driveway, the better. It turns her into a stronger, more confident biker. Riding as a family and taking the time to teach her the rules of the road and bike safety will give her a sense of confidence, too. Your girl also might benefit from joining a riding group or biking meet-up in your area—especially one that’s just for girls. Look online to see what resources are available in your neighborhood. Simple encouragement might just be the key to keeping your girl riding off into the sunset, or at least down the street to her best friend’s house for years to come.
When you become a parent or caregiver it’s like a switch flips in your brain and reprioritizes everything. Instead of thinking of your own best interests, you automatically take on extra stress or pain so your girl doesn’t have to feel any at all. But before you get ready to go toe-to-toe with a playground menace, you might want to rein it in a bit.
Although there are some situations with serious safety issues that require you to step in immediately, if she’s facing a minor conflict, let her try to handle it on her own. Why? For starters, she’s not going to learn much about handling her own problems if you’re always stepping in to help. Dealing with conflict is an important skill to master, and it will be easier for her if she starts with more minor run-ins, like a disagreement with her best friend, before working up to the harder stuff she’ll encounter as a teen or adult.
“When caring adults go into ‘helicopter’ or ‘snowplow’ mode in an effort to move conflict or hardship out of the way, they’re really doing a disservice to their children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “If every little challenge or disappointment gets smoothed over or solved without the child’s involvement, or even awareness, they’re never going to learn how to do it on their own. While your girl might need guidance to handle conflict—and it might take more time to get things resolved than if you jumped in—the confidence and skills she’ll gain in being able to weather her own storms will be worth it.”
Additionally, seeing you run to her rescue any time something goes awry might make her question her own ability to handle difficulties and make her think you don’t have much confidence in her—which couldn’t be further from the truth.
So the next time you’re tempted to smooth the path for your girl or help her out of a sticky situation, take a step back and let her try it solo first. It’s easier said than done, of course (you might feel more nervous than she will!), but following these steps, you can support her without taking over.
Start small. Let’s say she loses a favorite book or toy. Instead of drying her tears and ordering a new one, have a conversation about the importance of being responsible for her things. Suggest that she set aside money from her allowance to buy herself a new one. The time it takes for her to save up to replace an item she lost will be a chance for her to learn accountability and that she needs to look after her things.
Listen and make suggestions. If your girl tells you about a problem, it’s an opportunity to teach her how to resolve it on her own. So if she’s having an issue with a teacher, instead of immediately calling or emailing them, talk her through the issue. Having her figure out what she wants to say ahead of time can help, and you can even role-play as practice. Switch up the roles so she can also consider the other person’s perspective too.
Then let her do her thing! If she’s done her best at trying to resolve things on her own and the problem or miscommunication persists, then it might be time to step in. But if she can communicate well and fix things on her own, not only will adults view her with more respect, but her peers will too.
Share your war stories. The challenges your girl's faces are unique to her life and her experiences, but that doesn’t mean she can’t benefit from learning how you’ve dealt with a few sticky situations yourself (and come out on the other side!). Tell her about a rough time in your life, how you handled it, and what you learned. She might not entirely relate to the mishaps of your youth, but the story will help her see that everyone struggles sometimes—and that although you want her to solve her own problems, you’re still there for her with emotional support.
The truth is, life is hard sometimes. The sooner she learns that and starts practicing these problem-solving techniques, the more confident and capable she’ll be as she grows up.
Think back to when your girl was a toddler; do you remember that boundless enthusiasm and I-can-do-anything attitude? One day she wanted to be a writer and the next day she’d switched to wanting to be a dentist/astronaut (because dental hygiene is important even in space. Naturally!). But as girls get older, studies show that their fearless sense of adventure starts to give way to something a bit less fun: the pressure to be perfect.
Just how serious is the problem though? By age 13, nearly half of girls say they “aren’t allowed to fail.” Scary, right?
“When girls think people are counting on them to do well—even at things that are seemingly trivial—it creates not only a fear of failure but also a fear of trying anything new or challenging that could expose a weakness,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Everyone has to work to develop the skills involved in new activities, but girls are viewing their beginner abilities (or lack thereof) as proof that they’re not qualified. And this in turn, is keeping them from trying new things altogether.”
It might not seem like a big deal if she’s too nervous to try out for the school talent show, but that tendency can make her less likely to raise her hand in class unless she’s positive she knows the “perfect” answer. And even if she does offer an answer in class, she might be more likely to start her statement with, “This probably isn’t right, but…”
This self-doubt and its ramifications can set up a behavior pattern that will follow her into adulthood. For example, research has shown that women are less likely to put themselves out there for promotion unless they’re one hundred percent sure they’re going to get it.
The plain truth is that being “good” at everything isn’t what matters. It’s trying her best and being willing to work toward improving that will give her the fullest, most fun, and ultimately most successful life.
So whether she dreams of landing a coveted solo at the choir concert this spring or is thinking of nominating herself for debate team captain, what matters isn’t whether she makes it or not—it’s that she’s trying in the first place. Even something small, like trying a new food or playing a new game with friends can help set your girl up for future success.
How can you encourage her to test the waters and try new things?
While the pressure to succeed will always be there, how you frame success—as the willingness to try—will ultimately be what helps your girl thrive!
Let’s face it: speaking up can be hard for anyone, but if your girl is on the shy side, speaking her mind might feel as far-fetched as meeting a real-life unicorn. That said, just because she’s nervous about it doesn’t mean she shouldn’t try to flex that speaking-out muscle. Throughout her life, she’ll need to know how to stand up for herself or others and share her point of view.
Whether it’s defending a peer from a bully or sharing an answer in class, her ability to speak up is an important skill to master—and it’ll be way easier if she gets in the habit now. Here are some tips on how to teach her to raise her voice.
Talk with her. A lot.
The safest place to start her future of public speaking? At home! Talking to people about how she feels in a safe and loving environment is a great, low-risk place to start. Engage her in conversations, and invite her to offer her opinion regularly. Avoid yes/no questions, and really urge her to tell you about her feelings.
If your girl often answers questions you ask about her preferences with, “whatever” or “I don’t care,” explain to her that nobody can read minds, and that the only way she can make life better for herself (and others!) is by speaking up and communicating her feelings, ideas, wants, and needs. If she doesn’t tell anyone about her big idea, her perspective, how she’s feeling, or what she needs, how can others help?
Acknowledge that things won’t always go her way, even when she does speak up, but that by communicating her thoughts and desires, she’ll at least have a better chance. And the more she does it, the more automatic it will become—and probably her confidence in doing so too. She’ll also likely notice that people listen to her more and take her more seriously. If there’s something coming up at school, like a debate or class discussion, practice with her at home first. Having her thoughts organized will make it easier for your girl to feel comfortable.
To some extent, she can fake it till she makes it! Teach your girl that the tone of her voice and her posture all send different messages too. If someone slouches and speaks too softly, they might appear less confident. However, speaking in a calm, clear voice and standing up straight with her shoulders back are all ways she can project that she’s confident and in control of her thoughts and feelings. Ask her to think of ways of standing and moving that make her feel more powerful. Maybe it’s standing with her hands on her hips or jumping up and down a bit to “warm up” before speaking. Take time to point out how some of her favorite role models stand or carry themselves so she can follow their lead!
Be a role model
Guess who she learns from the most? You! Yes, that’s right. Whether you think she notices or not, your girl is watching and listening to you when you’re speaking to your friends, negotiating a deal with a colleague, or having discussions with your partner. Showing her it’s OK to speak your mind in a respectful and direct way models confident behavior for your girl. Do your best to stick up for what you believe in and to not be timid about speaking your mind. If you also have a hard time with speaking up, tell your girl about it and how you overcame it. It will bring the two of you closer together and show her that being shy doesn’t have to stop you from saying all the things in life you’d like to.
Take a step back
While your first instinct when you see your girl struggle might be to jump in and fix everything or speak on her behalf, try to avoid doing that unless it’s completely necessary. While you can absolutely listen and advise, she has to take the action to change a situation and finally stick up for herself. Tell her about times when you’ve realized you needed to take action and decide what to do next—perhaps a time when you were treated with disrespect or saw another person being disrespected. What went through your mind, and how did you find the courage to take the next step and act? Telling her about your own experiences will help her think through these kinds of situations when they happen in her life.
Give her a chance to be a leader
She can’t step into a leadership role if she doesn’t have an opportunity! When your girl is young, or as soon as you can, talk to her about signing up for activities, clubs, or something like Girl Scouts. By placing her in a situation where she’s excited and collaboration with a team is built into the experience, she’ll naturally gain leadership skills and her confidence in speaking up will blossom. That positive experience will make her feel more comfortable taking on a leadership role with friends—and inside the classroom too.
There’s nothing new about not being able to fully trust everything you read, see, or hear. But with huge amounts of information coming to our phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs faster than ever—and with technology making it easier for almost anyone to claim to be an expert on any subject—it’s become trickier to sort fact from fiction. On top of that, many people with busy lifestyles simply don’t take the time to stop and consider whether what they’re hearing is real or if it’s just what some call “fake news.” And although the presence of fake news is upsetting to many adults, it can be flat-out confusing for children.
“Your girl is almost definitely hearing about fake news—be it through adult conversations, on TV, or even just from her peers at school, and most likely she doesn’t understand what it means,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “On one hand, she’s being told by the caring adults in her life that it’s wrong to fib or tell lies, but on the other hand, there’s been a lot of talk about powerful people twisting the truth or dismissing facts they don’t like as fake news. It’s really hard for anyone, let alone a child, to make sense of this.” More than that, it creates confusion about who your daughter can trust, which can lead to feelings of anxiety.
Helping your girl understand what’s going on—and discussing why it’s important to think about the information we’re told instead of just accepting it as fact—can give her some peace of mind and empower her to be a truth finder in this fake news world. Here’s how to build her critical-thinking skills and help her make sense of all the confusion.
Developing critical-thinking skills (like the ones she can use to spot fake news) will help your daughter navigate her world, identify problems, and find solutions that lead to positive change. But beyond that, these skills help her become an independent young woman who can think on her own with confidence—and that’s definitely not fake news!
“Be careful!” Stop and think about that phrase—and how often you say it to your daughter. The intention behind those two words is, of course, full of love for her and a desire to keep her out of harm’s way, but the effect could be that your girl errs too much on the side of caution, becomes overly inhibited, and misses out on some of the greatest adventures and opportunities life has to offer.
One of those great opportunities? A skinned knee.
It might sound crazy but think back to the times when you were younger and skinned a knee (or an elbow, or maybe even landed yourself in a short-term cast). There’s a reason why you might remember those moments so vividly—in these times of trial when we’re pushed to endure a little more than usual, we develop strength.
Not convinced? Check out these four reasons to think of a skinned knee as a badge of honor.
So the next time you’re tempted to tell your girl to be careful, remember that those words could orient her toward avoiding risks in general—even those that could benefit her. Instead, consider telling her to be smart (there is, after all, a difference between trying out some new surfing moves and skydiving without a parachute!) and, most of all, to have fun. And if she does get a scraped knee or another fairly minor injury along the way? Know that she’ll be stronger and better off for it.
Can we talk a minute about those old-school cartoons where beautiful princesses (usually before they know they’re princesses) are smiling ear to ear and singing while sweeping, mopping, and doing the dishes? While we don’t know what goes down in your family, we’re pretty sure scrubbing the pasta pot is nobody’s idea of a good time.
Still, household chores need to get done, and having your girl help with them is important on a number of levels. In addition to the tidying going quicker when there are more hands to help, taking on a few regular tasks around the house teaches your daughter responsibility and teamwork and gives her the skills she’ll need when she grows up and is living on her own. You don’t want her to be that clueless kid in the dorms who doesn’t know how to use a washing machine!
And yet chores—when divvied up without much thought—can reinforce gender stereotypes and send the wrong message to kids about which work is for girls and which is for boys. So it’s not just those cartoon princesses and their happy house-making that enforces outdated stereotypes, you could be doing it in your own home without even realizing it!
“In many families, girls’ responsibilities are limited to things like setting the table and washing dishes, while boys are expected to take care of more physical tasks, like mowing the lawn or taking out the trash,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Not only does that send the wrong message to both boys and girls about what they’re capable of and what appropriate roles for them look like, but it also sets them up to be less likely to do certain types of tasks later in life.”
On top of that? The types of chores most commonly assigned to girls often take more time to accomplish than those given to boys (running the garbage outside takes a few seconds, whereas unloading the dishwasher and putting everything away is quite a bit more time consuming). One study actually found that girls spend, on average, 30 percent more time on household duties than their male counterparts—which means girls get less time to play, to study, and to pursue other interests than their brothers. Not OK!
Another study showed something just as (if not more) alarming: girls, on average, make less money in allowance even though they spend more time on chores than their male counterparts. The pay gap starts early, folks.
So taking the extra time to make sure household responsibilities aren’t being doled out based on subconscious gender stereotypes—and that any allowance system you have set up is fair between daughters and sons—will both help your kids see that boys and girls can equally take on any kind of job and give them a well-rounded set of skills to help them succeed in life.
How do you get started? Make a list of all the kid-friendly tasks that need to get done during the month. Depending on the ages of your children, this could include raking the leaves, vacuuming the carpets, cleaning the cat’s litter box, or even checking the oil on the family car. Then rotate the tasks among family members week by week. This way, nobody’s stuck doing one particular job they don’t like week after week, and no job is seen as gendered, either.
Whether she dreams of representing her country on the women’s hockey team or is getting ready to enter her school’s spelling bee (who’s to say she can’t rock both?), your girl needs to be ready to compete. And a big part of that is understanding how to be a gracious loser as well as a compassionate winner.
“As much as you might hope your daughter will be the best at everything she tries, she’s going to come in second, twelfth, and even last sometimes—and that’s a good thing,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Nobody wins every time, and the sooner she can see success as the result of patience and hard work and failure as a learning experience, life will be easier for her.”
Sports competitions—especially exciting international events—provide a wonderful opportunity to bring up these concepts and explore them with your girl. When an athlete wins, do they take the time to congratulate their opponent on their efforts, or do they simply revel in the praise from the crowd? Similarly, does the person or team that lost pout and stomp away after the competition ends, or do they shake hands and applaud the winner? Sometimes even the athletes who children look up to display poor sportsmanship, which makes it even more important for parents to teach the art of acting with empathy and kindness, even in the face of competition.
But don’t just talk about competition, get her in the thick of it, too! Sign her up for a mix of activities, some competitive, some not as much—but think twice about engaging her in groups that make a point of handing out equal “participation” prizes to all children involved. Of course the intention of avoiding hurt feelings is a good one, but teaching your daughter that everyone is always a winner could actually set her up for self-doubt later on and diminish her self-esteem when she’s confronted with life’s realities.
At home, try playing age-appropriate competitive games (those ages listed on board game boxes really do mean something!), and resist the urge to let her win. If you’re playing a game of chance, explain that nobody knows who will win—there’s no way to be “good” or “bad” at the game, it’s just about having fun! You’ll take turns and find out who the winner is at the end as an exciting surprise. If it’s her this time, it might be you or someone else the time after. These types of games are good for younger children, who are still learning the patience of taking turns, but can also be helpful for teaching good sportsmanship.
If she’s playing a competitive sport or game of skill, emphasize the fun of playing and testing her strengths. And if another player comes in first place, encourage your daughter to congratulate them and ask them for tips on how she might do better next time, and then suggest she spend some time practicing to sharpen her skills. Success doesn’t come easily or generally on the first try for anyone, and it’s no secret that many top athletes and professionals surround themselves with people who are similarly successful (or even more so!). That’s because these athletes know that having talented people around can inspire them to work harder and help them pick up new techniques along the way.
When your daughter does win over others, make sure she also knows how to both own her success (this can be hard for many girls and women, because society has for so long believed it’s more feminine to be humble) and think of those who weren’t as successful, recognize their efforts, and help them rise in the future.
Inevitably, there will be some activities that your daughter will never come first in. Your petite daughter may crush gymnastics but always lag behind her long-legged friends in track. Similarly, your family’s resident mathlete might have a harder time getting creative enough to win a ribbon in the local art competition. The point is, although everyone is good at some things, it’s impossible to be good at all things. That doesn’t mean she should stop enjoying activities she doesn’t excel at, though—far from it!
Participating in activities that bring her joy just for the fun of it is a wonderful thing, and losing gracefully is a sign of emotional maturity. Enjoying the journey whether she comes in the first place or fiftieth is what it means to be winning at life.
With unstoppable bravery, super-human strength, and unwavering dedication to truth and justice (not to mention that awesome outfit) it’s easy to understand why little girls might be obsessed with Wonder Woman right now—and why parents might find the classic super hero to be a good role model. What mom or dad wouldn’t want a daughter who knows what she believes in and stands up for what’s right?
Gal Gadot, who plays Wonder Woman—aka Diana, Amazon Princess—discussed a plot point from the movie that parents might want to pay close attention to. “When you first meet Diana on the island, she’s 5 or 6, and she’s this very curious little girl who’s very courageous, who’s very sassy,” the actor said in an interview released by Warner Bros. “She wants to learn how to fight, but she’s being very sheltered and very protected by her mother, who does not allow her to do so.”
Wonder Woman’s mother, Queen Hippolyta, may be a Greek Goddess, but her instincts to coddle and keep watch over her daughter—even when it’s not what’s best for her—couldn’t be more human. In fact, a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Institute found that the vast majority of modern-day mothers—seven out of ten!—self-identify as overprotective of their children.
The problem is of course, that when girls are “kept safe” from even the smallest risks or failures, they are also being deprived of valuable experiences that could build up their resilience and help them grow into confident, strong, capable young women. And just as it’s only by taking the risk to leave home and her mother’s side for the first time that Diana realizes her full potential and transforms into the Wonder Woman we all know and love, your daughter may also need some freedom and space to realize her full potential.
Basically, the lesson here is whether your daughter is six or sixteen, you have to let go to let her grow. Here are just a few ways you can start doing that today:
When you see your daughter stretching to reach the cereal on a high shelf, do you walk over and grab it for her? Do you still order for her at restaurants, even though she’s old enough to read the menu and make her own decisions? When she has a problem at school, do you step in right away rather than letting her try to work it out first? If you said yes to any of these, you might be in need of some tough love similar to what Hippolyta’s sister, Antiope, had to offer—that a mother is delinquent in her duties if she doesn’t prepare her daughter for life. We might not phrase it in such harsh Amazonian terms, but the essence of the sentiment is true: when you step in, you’re essentially blocking your daughter from stepping up and growing her own skill set (and the confidence that goes along with that). Plus, you could actually be making her doubt her own abilities. After all, if she were capable of handling these situations on her own, why would you be so eager to problem solve for her?
Slumber parties and residential summer camp stays will help your daughter gain independence and see how brightly she can shine on her own. As she gets older, meeting up with friends for an unsupervised afternoon of fun—or even taking a day trip with her best friend—will give her a little more freedom and make her even more self-reliant. After all, your daughter is going to want to leave the nest someday, just as Diana knew she needed to leave her sheltered island home. These baby steps will prepare her to stand courageously on her own when that day comes.
Cheer Her On
When Diana tells Hippolyta she wants to go help end the war, her mother replies, “If you choose to leave, you may never return!” Although of course Diana joins the war effort anyway—and becomes Wonder Woman in the process—we’re pretty sure her mother’s nay-saying didn’t do much to build up her confidence. So, if you’re worried that your not-so-coordinated daughter will hurt herself if she tries skateboarding? Keep those thoughts to yourself and let her hop on board. Think your tween daughter’s dreams of going to an Ivy League college one day are unrealistic? Tell her to look into what kinds of grades and scores she’ll need to get in, then encourage her to work for it. Do you know how people say if you shoot for the moon, you’ll at least reach the stars? The same goes here. If your daughter’s aiming for really big or slightly out-of-reach things and doesn’t succeed, it’s not a total wash. In fact, it can be a big win in terms of her learning about herself, her abilities, and where she has room for improvement. It’ll also help her grow more resilient and ready to handle life’s ups and downs. But who knows? Maybe she’ll hit her target. Life’s full of surprises, and your daughter is, too.
Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. Musical.ly. Snapchat. Chances are at least one of these is a big part of your life—and of your daughter’s. Despite the age restrictions on many social media platforms, a study from 2014 showed that roughly three out of every five kids had their own social accounts before age 10. And although these digital communities can help teens and tweens develop their social skills and form positive relationships, the digital world can still be a tricky place to navigate.
That’s why Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald and Senior Digital Media Director, Kayla Santalla teamed up to tackle some major issues around kids and social media. Here are a few of their top do’s and don’ts:
* DO let your daughter know from the very beginning that you will be doing spot-checks on her social media—not because you don’t trust her, but because you want to make sure she’s staying safe and that nothing inappropriate or potentially dangerous is happening on her accounts.
* DON’T make a big deal about every little thing you see on her social accounts, though. If she posts something silly but harmless, let it go—save your lectures for bigger issues that could compromise her safety or that of others.
* DO set up social media and technology rules as a family. Discuss what areas of your home should be screen-free, and during what hours social media and phones, in general, should be off-limits. When your kids are involved in creating the guidelines, they’ll be a lot more likely to follow them.
* DON’T forget that the social media and technology rules apply to the whole family—adults included. You might not even realize how much time you spend attached to your phone, but your children certainly do! Besides, you're your child's first social media role model. If you're attached to your screens 24/7, she'll want to be, too.
* DO talk to your kids about what is and isn’t appropriate to post online. If it’s not something they’d feel comfortable with their grandmother or a college recruiter seeing, it’s probably not worth putting online. Remember, even “temporary” or “private” posts can be captured, saved, and shared.
* DON’T post sensitive content about your daughter on your social media account. Being a tween or teen is hard enough without mom or dad posting cute-to-you but mortifying-to-her baby bath time pictures or toilet training moments. Some special memories are meant to be kept in the family—not shared with the world.
Watch the whole conversation in the video below for more on navigating social media with your daughter:
It might sound crazy, but it’s 100 percent true: to set your kids up for success, you absolutely have to let them fail. Scraped knees, bruised egos, embarrassing moments, and regrettable decisions don’t feel good in the moment—and the very thought of them can leave many helicopter parents running for the hills—but in the long run, they’re some of the most valuable experiences you can give your daughter. Why? Because it’s those moments of not succeeding that set the foundation for her to become a resilient, forward-thinking leader who approaches challenges with bravery, handles life’s hiccups with confidence, and generally faces life with a can-do (or at least can-try!) attitude.
Now, we’re not suggesting anything as extreme as encouraging her to flunk out of the fourth grade or sending her off for her driving test with zero training, but there are occasions where the benefits of failing far outweigh the momentary discomfort that you might feel as her parent. So, the next time one of these things happens, take a deep breath, step back, and let her do her thing.
She Forgot Her Homework at Home
Whether it’s a big project she’s been working on for weeks or a simple overnight assignment, if she left it on the kitchen table instead of stowing it in her backpack, chances are she’ll call on you for help. Refusing to deliver her work to the school (especially if it’s just around the corner) might seem cruel, but it’ll teach her to own her mistakes, and might make her more responsible in the future.
She Blew Her Allowance
It’s Friday night and she wants to go to the movies with her friends, but she’s already spent all the cash she had on other things. Bailing her out will save you a few hours of dealing with a sulky tween or teenager, but it will also send a message that it doesn’t really matter how or if she spends her money, because you’ll always be there to give her more. (Spoiler alert: that’s not how life works.) Missing out on a fun opportunity will teach her to prioritize her spending and think ahead when making purchases—skills that will take her far in all areas of her life.
She’s Out of Her League
Whether your energetic, yet less-than-coordinated girl wants to try out for the soccer team, or your tone-deaf but lovable daughter wants to audition for glee club, don’t discourage her! Putting herself out there is a brave thing to do, and worth celebrating in itself. And if she doesn’t make the cut? Give her a big hug, talk through the experience (the good and bad!), and rest assured that this disappointment will help her learn to cope with and bounce back from setbacks in her future.
She’s About to Ruin Her Hair
Your daughter wants to chop off her hair and you just know she’s going to regret it? Cool your jets. The truth is, she might look in the mirror after a dramatic haircut and wish she’d never done it—but so what? It’s important to support her self-expression and style. And making questionable decisions (and sporting a few “what-was-I-thinking?!” looks) is a normal part of growing up. A lousy haircut that will grow back in a few months’ time is a lot safer of a risk than many other things she could do.
None of these moments are easy for a parent to get through—there’s not much worse than watching your daughter suffer, especially when you could do something to prevent it—but they’re worth it when it comes to giving your daughter a solid foundation for life. So let go and let her make a few mistakes. If she’s open to acknowledging the mistakes—and even more if she’s willing to talk to you about them—grab the opportunity as a teachable moment. Empathize. Share a time when you made a similar decision and it turned out awful. Consider what you learned, but don’t dwell. It’ll be one of the smartest parenting moves you make.
When someone lies to you, it’s a betrayal of trust that can lead to any number of emotions from sadness or anger to confusion. And when that someone lying is your child, well, feelings can get even more complicated. It’s only natural as a parent to wonder, “Didn’t I teach her right from wrong,” or “Doesn’t she realize I know she’s lying” but this isn’t a time to question the adequacy of your parenting skills. Rather, it’s time to assess the situation, set things straight, and figure out how to make this a teachable moment for your daughter.
Take a Deep Breath
First off, even if your family has a no tolerance policy for lying, remember, not all lies are created equal. Take a second to think about the real ramifications of the lie your girl told. Did she insist she hadn’t eaten any sweets before dinner, despite the fact that you could plainly see chocolate brownie stuck in her braces—or is this a more serious matter that compromised your child’s safety or that of others? Naturally, you don’t want your girl to think she can “get away” with lying, as honesty is one of the most important qualities a person can have (and lying can be a slippery slope), but you also don’t want to get overly upset over the smallest of infractions, when there are sure to be bigger issues to tackle down the road.
The Why is More Important than the Lie
“When your child lies, which is bound to happen sooner or later,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “it’s actually a door-opener to a bigger conversation about the reasons why she didn’t tell you the truth in the first place. By understanding her motivation, you can actually find solutions to problems you might not have known your daughter was having.” Stay calm and ask her outright why she was dishonest with you, or why she felt that she couldn’t tell you what was really going on. Her answer may surprise you.
“If she’s been claiming to be at basketball practice after school, but you found out she didn’t make the team in the first place, there’s a chance she was worried you’d be disappointed in her for not measuring up. Or if she says she’s done her homework, but you find out she hasn’t been turning anything into the teacher, there’s a chance she’s not understanding the subject matter or needs a little extra tutoring in that area,” says Bastiani Archibald. Kids often lie to try to present themselves as more popular or more successful because they want to present an image of themselves that will make you happy, or because they don’t want to let you down. Sometimes kids lie without even knowing why—it just comes out. So try to be understanding and empathize with your child—you love her no matter what, and you can’t exactly support her through the hard stuff if she doesn’t tell you about it in the first place!
Allow Her to Negotiate
While some lies come from your child’s fear of disappointing you, others will likely come from the fact that she flat-out doesn’t agree with you on a certain subject, or that she feels a rule is unfair. In these cases, ask her to present her argument as to why things should be different and then really hear her out. “If you discover that she’s been wearing one thing in the morning when you drop her off for school, but then changing into something else you might not approve of once she’s there, talk to her about why she felt the need to go behind your back rather than talking to you about the problem directly,” says Bastiani Archibald. “The important thing is that you want her to feel comfortable approaching you even when you disagree. She won’t always get her way, but your daughter needs to know that she’ll be heard and that her opinions and feelings will be taken seriously.”
And remember to actually listen and consider what your girl is saying. As parents, we’re not always right about everything, and your daughter may have a solid argument. Changing your mind or giving your daughter a little bit of leeway when it makes sense isn’t a sign of weakness as a parent. Instead, it’s a signal to your daughter that while lying breeds distrust and hurt feelings, communicating calmly and standing up for what she believes in—even when you disagree—can lead to positive change. Sometimes even adults don’t have the fullest picture of the situation, or any way to understand things from her point of view unless she explains it. Hearing her out helps her see that you want to be flexible and think critically about things—and that she should, too. Plus, having these kinds of conversations with you will teach her strong conflict resolution skills that will help her have healthy friendships, relationships, and positive career interactions later in life.
Fess Up to Your Own Mistakes
If your child points out the fact that you’ve told lies here and there—maybe she heard you use a doctor’s appointment as an excuse not to go to an event you simply weren’t interested in—don’t deny it. “The best thing in a case like this is to acknowledge that sometimes even you do tell a little white lie here and there,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Let her know you’re working on this issue, too, because even with the best of intentions like not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, lying can mislead others, waste their time, or lead to even more confusion and hurt feelings down the line. You and she can work on speaking more directly together.”
Examine the Real Effects
After you get past the reason behind your daughter’s lie, you still need to make sure she understands that telling lies—even seemingly little ones—can erode trustworthiness, complicate relationships, and actually cause harm. Ask your girl what or who could have been hurt by her lie, or if she’s not old enough to draw those conclusions herself, walk her through the realities of how her actions might have affected others. Taking a look at the real effects of her lie (perhaps money that could have been saved or spent on something else was wasted, or someone’s feelings were hurt) will have a much bigger impact on her than simply telling her that “lying is wrong,” and punishing her for it.
“Make sure your girl knows that she can talk to you about anything,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Yes, you might get angry or feel disappointed in her actions if she’s done something you don’t agree with—but lying to you instead of fessing up certainly isn’t going to help anything. And if she’s disobeying your rules and then lying about it, emphasize that although you might not always budge or shift rules she disagrees with—there’s zero chance of you two coming to a compromise if she’s not communicating with you about how she feels.” And then? Let the punishment fit the crime. If your daughter’s lie hurt someone else, consider having her write a note of apology, explaining that she understands the way her words or actions affected others and that she’d like to fix things if possible. “Sending her to her room or taking away her phone may have a temporary impact,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but getting to her to more specifically acknowledge what she did to herself and others and helping her understand the true ramifications of what she’s done will go a long way in raising an honest, trustworthy adult.”
Whether your daughter is in pre-K or heading to prom this year, it’s never too early (or too late) to give her the tools she’ll need to live her best life. And among the countless skills and bits of wisdom that will serve her over the years, having these six tricks up her sleeve will give her the confidence to truly take on the world.
Across the country, young people standing up for their beliefs are making headlines, sparking national conversations, and in some cases even getting laws changed to reflect what they think is right.
If your girl is involved in these movements or has been vocal about some other issue, you might worry about her being seen as "disruptive" or too "opinionated," but it's important to recognize that it takes courage and character to speak out against the status quo—even if you don't agree with her views.
As civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said in 1957:
…there are some things in our social system to which I am proud to be maladjusted and to which I suggest that you too ought to be maladjusted. I never intend to adjust myself to the viciousness of mob-rule. I never intend to adjust myself to the evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions which take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating method of physical violence. I call upon you to be maladjusted. The salvation of the world lies in the hands of the maladjusted.
This call to push back against the problems in our society—to say, "this is wrong!" when something doesn't feel right—goes all the way back to the United States Constitution, in which our Founding Fathers wrote about working toward a more perfect union. Believing that we can do better and be better—and taking the action necessary to make those hopes a reality—is one of the most patriotic acts possible.
So how can you support your girl as she stands up for her beliefs? Follow these tips from Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald.
Helping your child become civically engaged and stand up for what she believes in might not always be easy, but it will certainly be worthwhile. As Dr. King said in an address at the University of Chicago, “The institution of the family is decisive in determining not only if a person has the capacity to love another individual, but in the larger social sense whether he is capable of loving his fellow men collectively.” And indeed, raising up a generation of thoughtful, passionate, engaged—and yes, when called for, maladjusted children—is perhaps the most meaningful and important thing we can do for the future of our society.
In a time when politics are extremely contentious, your girl might be anxious, scared, or just have questions about what she’s seeing and hearing, and as a parent, you want to help. So where do you start?
“Now more than ever, we have to stand together as one people, one nation—regardless of our opinions, race, religion or beliefs, gender, who we love, what language we speak, or where we come from,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “But unity doesn’t mean abandoning the things that make us different from one another, and it doesn’t mean standing by or looking the other way in the face of bigotry and hatred. Real unity is what you get when a lot of very diverse people come together to form one complex yet seamless whole. It’s about equality, inclusiveness, and dignity—values I think we as parents all hope to instill in our children.”
Your inclination might be to avoid the topic, but it’s incredibly important to take her concerns seriously. Address them in an age-appropriate way. It’s even okay to share that you’re feeling uncertain as well—both adults and kids often do during times of transition and change.
Moving forward together takes leadership, and not just from one person. We all have a role to play. Here are a few ways you and your girl can lead:
Encourage your girl to own her feelings and channel them into courageous and compassionate action—for action, both small and large, brings real change. Remind her how much courage her favorite heroines from books and movies had to have in order to create a better world. For example, in Harry Potter Hermione was afraid—the Death Eaters specifically hated people like her—but even in the darkest of times, she never stopped fighting for others who were also being treated badly. If your girl needs a little motivational boost, pick a book or movie to share with her that demonstrates every day or historic courage and heroism of its characters. Seeing how others have overcome challenges will help your daughter see that she can do the same.
While none of us can snap our fingers to create instant unity, we can—we must—take action and stand together for what’s right. It will take time and a lot of work to bring people together, but we can and must start today. Small changes and gestures add up, bridging divides and strengthening communities.
We all have voices, and now is the time for us to raise them—together.
Learn how Girl Scouts can benefit your girl.
Voting on (or before!) Election Day—whether you’re voting for the next President of the United States or for your local city councilperson—is obviously incredibly important, and something you can and should share with your children.
Some parents think voting is way over kids’ heads—that politics has nothing to do with their world and something they will be bored by, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Voting is about using your voice to stand up for what you believe in. It's an amazing opportunity to reinforce the idea that your girl's thoughts and opinions matter. Plus, the candidates who are voted into office will be shaping your girl’s future—from her educational options today to her financial realities as she becomes an adult.
Whether you're completing a mail-in ballot, voting early, or showing up to the polls on Election Day, find a way to involve your kids. Follow these easy suggestions to help your girl become an excited, engaged citizen—even before she’s old enough to cast her own ballot!
You get the idea. The kinds of decisions our candidates make affect all of us. Your girl doesn’t have to know anything about foreign affairs or what many see as "politics" to be personally invested in an election and its candidates.
When was the last time you sat down with your girl and encouraged her to make something—something she wanted to truly create—from scratch? In a society seemingly run by screens, it can be easy to forget about hands-on projects, yet those can be some of the most important activities for your girl to do. The act of making things isn’t just fun, it can set her up for major success in life.
“Making capitalizes on play-based experiences (the best way for kids to learn), and is also a wonderful entry to the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) as kids are naturally curious and creative,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. Plus, making emphasizes the process—the actual doing—rather than the end product in a way that so little in our lives does. From dreaming up ideas and designing projects to testing ideas and problem-solving on her own terms, these hands-on projects are one of the best ways to keep your girl learning.
The art of creation also gives girls agency in a world where most things—where they live, when they go to school, even what they’re having for dinner—are usually out of their control. “Kids live in a world largely built and managed by adults,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “When they are given the freedom to make something entirely of their own imagination, designing how it looks and operates, they can feel true ownership and control in a way they don’t often have the opportunity to.”
Being able to follow through on an idea of your own is psychologically satisfying. “When a child—or anyone—dreams up a project, but then has to hand it over to someone else to execute, they’re giving away part of their power,” she continues. “Meanwhile, the process of transforming their idea into a tangible object or product allows that person to retain complete control over the look, feel, and function—and culminates with an amazing sense of pride.”
What counts as making, though? Really, lots of things! Your girl can make or build a:
You can play a big role in encouraging your girl to be a maker. Here’s how:
One quality every leader really needs? Being able to work well as part of a team. Leaders who understand the need to pitch in, who take pride in contributing to the greater good, and who see the benefits of their work are typically more effective and happy in their lives. Plus? They’re a whole lot more employable.
There are lots of ways you can raise your girl to be a team player—from signing her up for team sports like softball or soccer to getting her involved in a Girl Scout troop—but one of the best ways starts right at home with basic chores. “Your family is the first team your girl will ever belong to,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Chores can help her recognize and appreciate her role and value within the family unit—especially if you start her out on chores when she’s young.”
And there’s apparently no such thing as too young to help around the house. “There’s no question that toddlers are a little too little to be doing their own laundry—they can’t even reach!” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “But even at that age, she can help you put her dirty clothing into the laundry bag.” In fact, there are all kinds of chores that are fully age-appropriate for your tiniest teammate. She’ll feel pride in wiping down surfaces with a damp cloth, putting away her own toys in bins and baskets, and helping you sort and fold socks out of the dryer. “Your preschool girl might take longer to finish a task than you would,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but teaching her that she has something to contribute from such an early age will pay off bigtime down the road.”
As your child gets older and stronger, she can start to take on more complicated responsibilities like taking out the trash, raking leaves, and even making simple family meals. Take the time to really teach her each of these new skills (perhaps by doing them with her the first few times) and then reinforcing how much her time and effort benefits the family as a whole. After all, when everyone takes part in the family responsibilities, they’re finished sooner, leaving more time for fun activities. Plus? Knowing how to do the laundry and cook simple meals will really help her out once she gets to college.
For parents who want to get their elementary school, middle school, or even high school aged girls started on chores—it’s never too late to teach accountability, responsibility, and teamwork through family chores. As your girl gets older, she’ll want more freedom—which is an important and natural part of development. Talk to your girl about the kinds of things she wants (maybe it’s going to a concert with friends, having a social media account, or even one day borrowing your car) and explain that she needs to demonstrate she can be responsible first. How can she do that? By pitching in around the house, staying organized, and showing that you (and the whole family!) can rely on her.
Chores are an amazing way your girl can show her maturity, while also gaining the skills and confidence she’ll need to be an independent, successful adult. And well, let’s be honest, it’s nice to have some help around the house, too!
Raising independent children is a major goal of healthy parenting and obviously so important. They’ll do better in school, be less likely to give into peer pressure when they know something isn’t right, have brighter careers, and generally know how to take care of themselves in a healthy, happy way.
But there is one thing you’re going to have to do if you’re going to instill her with an independent spirit—you’re going to have to let go a bit. And loosening the reigns can come with a teeny bit of parenting anxiety. “You’ll likely always think of her as your little girl—no matter how old she is—and your instinct might be to want to keep a watch over her and hold her hand through everything she does,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. “The truth is, though, that by giving her age-appropriate levels of independence and freedom, she’ll have a better chance of developing into a young woman who can stand on her own two feet and really succeed in whatever career or lifestyle she chooses.” And who doesn’t want that for their girl, right?
No matter your girl’s age, there are super simple ways to boost her independence little by little. Try out these tips and watch her grow and flourish before your eyes!
If She’s a Toddler or in Preschool…
Independent play is a great way to set her up as a self-starter. It’s only natural for her to want you to play with her—and interactive play is important to her development as well—but start setting aside some time for her to play by herself. Here’s how to do it: Set her up with some of her favorite toys, and then start doing an entirely different activity in the same or an adjacent room. As she plays by herself, she’ll have the security of knowing you’re nearby (and you can keep an eye on her!) while she tests the kiddie-pool waters of independence.
If She’s in Elementary School…
Making and packing her own lunch for school or camp will make her appreciate her mid-day meal a little bit more (who knew it took time and effort to make a sandwich?!)—plus, it will give her important life skills that will help her be more independent in the years to come. If she’s in early grades, work with her to make the lunch each day, giving her only the most age-appropriate tasks like putting the apple slices you’ve cut up into a sandwich baggie. As she gets older and is more responsible, she can experiment with making her own sandwiches or wraps.
If She’s in Middle School…
Depending on her maturity level, she’s probably ready to be left home alone for short periods of time. Before you head out and leave her as the queen of the castle, though, make sure to spend time teaching her how to handle emergency situations, going over house rules, and even addressing what to do if someone rings the doorbell or knocks on your front door. Make sure emergency numbers are kept by the phone and that you’ve come up with a list of activities she is allowed to do (or not) while you’re out. Stay nearby in the neighborhood the first time or two so you can get home quickly just in case. All of these things will build her confidence in being able to hold down the fort, and show her just how independent and strong she can be!
If She’s in High School…
Chances are, your older girl likes to go out with her friends and wishes she could stay out with them even later than her curfew. Instead of flatly saying, “no,” next time she asks, explain that if she wants something so grown up as a later curfew, she’s going to need to negotiate for it like she’s more grown up! Let her know you’re willing to hear her out, but that she’ll need to give you strong reasons why she needs a later curfew (it being “not fair” or “everyone else has a later one” doesn’t count!) and also offer up examples of how responsible she is or how and how often she might check-in with you, so that you’ll know you can trust her with a later curfew. Being a good negotiator is a huge step in being more independent that she’ll use throughout her life. And hey, if she’s got good points and has a good track record of being trust-worthy and making her earlier curfew, you might just want to let her stay out that extra 30 minutes.
“Mom? Dad? I’m bored!”
Like clockwork, almost as soon as the final school bell of the year rings, parents across the country start hearing this familiar refrain. And naturally, when it crops up in your home, you’ll want to respond with fun activities, trips, and projects to keep your girl happy and her brain humming—or perhaps you’ve even already over scheduled her with a ton of classes and outings—but did you know that a little boredom thrown in the mix can actually be good for your child?
“Giving your girl some unstructured time and encouraging her to learn to entertain herself is incredibly valuable,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. “We live in an all-too stimulating society filled with phones, screens, and other easy distractions to more than fill our time—but filling all our time with those leaves little room for creative thought or imaginative play.”
When your girl feels bored, she’ll want to find an escape from that feeling as soon as possible, as it’s different and uncomfortable. Give her time to fill the void on her own. She might end up inventing a new game, going outside to explore, picking up an interesting book, or even just daydreaming. “Moments of boredom can, in fact, spark innovation,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “And learning to be a self-starter in her youth will help her gain confidence, independence, and leadership skills that will serve her throughout her life.”
So the next time your child complains that she has “nothing to do,” resist the urge to rescue her from her boredom by suggesting a specific activity right away. Instead, challenge her to use her imagination and the world around her to make her own fun. You (and she!) will probably be surprised with what she comes up with.
Who runs the world? Girls! Or at least they will soon. This generation of girls (probably including your daughter!) is seemingly more career-minded than any generation before them. Not so sure about that? Let’s look at the facts: a 2013 study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute found that 98 percent of girls want to have a job or career when they grow up and that eight out of ten would rather make their own money than marry someone who could support them financially.
All that said, your ambitious girl likely has big ideas and dreams about her future in the working world, so follow these tips to help make her dreams come true!
Want to make sure the girls in your life know they can do and be anything they want? Then it’s time to flex some muscle and start busting gender stereotypes! Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. puts it this way: “Kids have this amazing, natural ability to see the world as limitless, but when adults signal that certain things or behaviors are off limits for kids based on their gender, their worlds get smaller and smaller—and that’s not just sad, it can be damaging as well.”
Obviously, every parent has the best intentions, but sometimes it’s possible to unknowingly promote stereotypes that can fence your girl in. To make sure she understands she can accomplish anything she wants in life, try these six easy tips and encourage your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same!
We’re all working to create a more peaceful world, where people are respectful of each other and bullying is a thing in the past, but in the meantime, there’s a good chance your daughter will encounter at least one instance of someone talking behind her back or hurting her feelings at school. Hearing that your girl is going through a hard time can be heartbreaking, but instead of immediately stepping in and trying to fix the situation for her, Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald says it’s better to arm her with ways to handle the situation herself if possible. “You won’t always be there to help her get through these kinds of situations,” she says, “so giving her the skills to both cope and make a situation better on her own will truly help her in life.”
Your daughter might think she’s dealing with a hater, but the truth is that neither she nor you know what’s actually going on in this other girl’s life, or what her motivations are for her behavior. “Listen to your daughter, and take her emotions seriously,” Dr. Bastiani Archibald says, “but also take a step back to determine how serious the situation really is. Is this a case of a girl your daughter wants to be friends with not wanting to be besties with her? A situation like that can be hurtful, but as long as the other girl is being respectful, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that behavior.” Explain to your daughter that different personalities sometimes just aren’t a natural match—but that this one girl’s lack of interest in friendship doesn’t mean she won’t find other girls who want to be friends in her class or on the playground. Encourage her to stop wasting energy on the one girl who doesn’t want to team up, and to instead focus on all the other potential friends she could be making. Just sitting at a different lunch table or trying out a different game at recess could open her world to a whole new group of kids.
That said, if what’s bothering her goes beyond a personality mismatch, to the point where another child is spreading rumors or purposefully doing things to humiliate your daughter or hurt her feelings, she might need some help on how to handle the situation. “It’s almost always effective to simply act as though the actions of the hater or bully don’t affect you, since usually the person in question wants a reaction and will get bored if nothing happens,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, but that’s often easier said than done.”
If your daughter wants to take action, urge her to resist the temptation to throw insults back at her bully or to say nasty things about her to others. That will only escalate the situation and bring your daughter down to the mean girl’s level. Instead, suggest that she ignore the taunts or mean behavior while others are around, and instead wait for a moment alone with the other person to bring up what’s been going on. “She can say something like ‘I’ve heard you’re saying these things about me—is that true?’ or ‘I’ve noticed you doing X, Y, Z’ and then ask the other girl why she’s been behaving that way,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, as it’s possible there’s been a misunderstanding between the two girls that could be cleared up in a one-on-one, non-accusatory conversation. If that’s not the case, and it’s clear the other girl simply doesn’t like your daughter, she can follow up by saying, “It’s okay if you don’t want to be friends, but I’d like to think we could at least be respectful of each other.” Help her practice using “I” statements like “When you _______, I feel ______.” Communicating her feelings clearly is a skill that will help your girl in situations throughout her life!
If none of this makes a difference, and your daughter is truly being tormented—or if there is a threat of violence—it’s time for you to step in. Talk to the parents of the girl in question and/or get a hold of school authorities who can help keep your daughter safe and help work out any conflicts that could be putting your daughter at risk.
You want your daughter to dream big and achieve huge things in her life—and the first step to that kind of success is helping her to believe she can do anything she sets her mind to. Steal these six boost-her-up secrets from Girl Scouts’ resident Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald and watch her confidence soar.
“Moooom? Daaad? Anyone? Can I get a pet? I promise I’ll take care of it!”
Even if your girl hasn’t started pleading for a puppy, a kitten, or even a mouse, chances are, she will soon. The truth is that while pets are fun and exciting, they’re also a huge, often years-long commitment. Just like any other member of your household, they’ll need care and love, plus healthy food to eat, exercise, and regular doctor’s visits. Unlike other members of your household (one hopes!) they also need to be cleaned up after in a more, well, shall we say hands-on way. If your family isn’t able to provide any one of those things, you should probably think twice about getting a pet. That said? If you’ve got the time and resources to add a furry (or scaly or winged!) friend to your crew, know that helping to raise a pet can have major benefits for your daughter as long as she’s mature enough to handle it. (One good indicator is whether or not she can pour herself a bowl of cereal. If she can, she can also feed the dog!) Learn about all the ways getting a pet can help your daughter be her best—and then think about heading to the local shelter. Your daughter’s new BFF is waiting!
Remember the thrill you felt when you scored your first ever soccer goal? Or how proud you felt getting flowers after a school play? Those experiences weren’t just fun ways to make new friends, they helped make you the confident, ambitious woman you are today. Plus, experts say kids who participate in extracurricular activities could actually do better in school. “Out-of-school experiences help girls develop real skills like teamwork and perseverance—skills that she’ll need to do well in school and throughout her life,” says Girl Scouts Chief Girl Expert, Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. With these tips, it’ll be fun and easy to find the right fit for your growing girl.
Explore Your Options
Check your school, parks and recreation department, museums, libraries, and community centers for activities that might be fun to try out. Additionally, ask other parents what their kids are involved with and whether they’re happy with the experiences. Then make a list of the activities that fit both your budget and schedule.
Ask These Questions
Is your daughter super imaginative? Perhaps something artistic would be a match. Does she love running around outside? Think about soccer or softball. Is she obsessed with Lego and figuring out how things work? A junior robotics club or coding class could be right up her alley. Remember that your daughter might not be into the same things you were as a child, no matter how much you wish that were the case! Really pay attention to her personality and then let her choose from a few options you think she might like.
Keep Her Interested
Tell her how proud you are of her for trying something new! If she can’t stop talking about how much fun she’s having in her new activity, you’ve probably found your match! Congrats! If she isn’t as enthusiastic, though, look into why. Maybe she’s not being challenged enough, or perhaps she’s not ready to be in such an advanced group. Ask her about her feelings and try to come up with solutions together—or talk to her teacher or coach to see if you can get her up to speed or help her feel more engaged. “Some activities simply might not be a match for your child, though,” Dr. Bastiani Archibald notes. “Of course it might be disappointing if you loved ballet or piano as a child and your daughter isn’t into it, but it’s important to recognize and value her unique personality and interests.”
Watch for Burnout
When you ask her about her activities, does she just shrug and say they’re “okay,” when two weeks ago, she couldn’t wait to tell her everything that she’d learned or accomplished? “If you notice that she’s not as excited as she used to be, try to find out why,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Having a very busy schedule with not a lot of downtime can make her overtired and make it hard for her to enjoy her hobbies as much as she would normally.” If that’s the case, sit down with her and see what can be adjusted in her schedule. Simplifying her week and her time obligations can help her enjoy her favorite things again. “But know that as a child grows, her interests may shift and change as well, so if she’s really not having fun anymore, it may be time to ditch that particular activity.”
Try Another Path
Struck out this time? Time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again! Keep in mind the lessons you and your daughter learned together from your first go-round—what worked and what didn’t—when you choose the next activity to try. Dr. Bastiani Archibald notes that “there’s a whole fun world out there, and you and your girl will have an amazing journey exploring it together.”
According to a recent study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, a whopping 92 percent of girls think they’re smart enough to be entrepreneurs and nearly 80 percent say they’re interested in careers in the business world. Love. This! What we don’t love so much is that one in three girls feels the stress or risk of failure involved in entrepreneurship makes it not worth the effort. Another bummer? The majority of girls think their gender would make it harder for them to succeed as entrepreneurs.
If you’re wondering why any of this matters, think of it this way: there’s a lot of power (and money!) in the business world, and if girls are too intimidated to even give their entrepreneurial skills a shot, they’re getting locked out of a lot of amazing opportunities. And even if your girl isn’t interested in calling the shots someday at her own business, having an entrepreneurial spirit will be important when she’s doing everything from writing a resume and negotiating her salary to making smart household purchases.
Luckily, it’s easier than you think to give your girl a business mindset and confidence in her entrepreneurial abilities. Borrow these five simple tips to get started.
You might tell your daughter that if she works hard in school and does well, she can go on to an amazing college after graduation. But unless you’re financially preparing as a family now, a future like this might not be so realistic—at least not without your daughter embarking on what could be decades of student debt.
Many parents hope that because their daughters are hard workers, dedicated volunteers, or talented athletes, they’ll get scholarships to help pay for their education. And although that might be the case for some, did you know that girls get short-changed when it comes to scholarships? It’s true. A survey conducted by the Student Loan Report found that young men get roughly double the amount in scholarship money than their female peers. And as for those mythical “full-ride” all-expenses-paid scholarships? Fewer than one half of 1 percent of students—regardless of gender—earn those. Not exactly worth banking on, even if your daughter is among the best and brightest.
The truth is, there’s some pretty troubling data when it comes to college planning. Recent studies show parents of girls are 22 percent less likely to be saving for higher education than parents of boys. Of course, for some families, it’s a struggle just to get food on the table, but data shows that even families that could be setting aside money often aren’t.
How could a generation of moms and dads so committed to girls reaching their full potential not be prioritizing something we know truly give them a leg up in life?
In search of answers, we decided to do a bit of an experiment and Googled the phrases “save for son’s education,” “save for daughter’s education,” and “save for daughter’s wedding” to gauge public interest on each topic. The findings were astounding. Specifically? There’s more than 13 times the information out there about saving for a boy’s education than about saving for a girl’s. Here’s the breakdown:
“You don’t even have to do the math to see these numbers are disturbing,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but the fact that there’s more than four times the information on saving for a DJ or flowers for your daughter’s wedding than there is on helping her pay for an academic degree cannot be ignored. These 1950s priorities are so ingrained in our society that many parents don’t even realize they’re acting on them—or that they’re putting their own girls at a real disadvantage.”
The hard truth is that our culture generally doesn’t take investing in girls’ education seriously—and that overarching view trickles down to affect what kinds of money is available for girls to get in the form of scholarships and how we budget within our own families.
Given these trends, it’s not surprising that girls are significantly more likely to go into student debt than boys. In fact, in an average year, female undergrads take on more than 12 percent more student debt than their male peers. After graduation, the gender pay gap makes it harder for young women to pay off their debt, which often leads to extended repayment plans, additional fees and interest, and years of financial struggle. Women own two-thirds of the United States’ current student debt. The issue is huge, and it’s not working in your daughter’s favor.
The good news? You can still do something about it.
“Everyone’s budget is going to be different,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but if your family can put aside even a small amount of money each month to help pay for her education, it could make a huge difference on her financial future.” From traditional savings accounts to special savings programs (like 529 plans through which the money you invest grows over the years), there are several options out there to fit families’ different needs.
And having conversations from an early age about financing college—not just about getting in—is important too. Some might rather take the “let’s see where she gets accepted, then deal with finances” approach, but leaving her out of the conversation about college savings can be both disempowering and leave her in the lurch when it comes to big decisions for her future.
“If your daughter understands the very real fact that getting a degree will be expensive but incredibly valuable to her future, perhaps she can start asking extended family to donate to her college fund in lieu of birthday or holiday gifts each year,” suggests Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Similarly, she might consider getting a part-time job in high school and setting aside part of her earnings to help cover tuition.”
Investing the time to have these conversations about paying for college will also help reinforce the fact that her mind and dreams are important to you—and that they should be valued. In a world where beauty and romance are all too often held up as the be-all-end-all for girls, you cannot underscore the worth of her brain and future potential enough.
The bottom line? It’s never too early to start thinking about, talking about, and saving for your girl’s education. It’s almost definitely going to be expensive no matter how you shake it, but the earlier you start discussing the future—and putting money aside, if your budget allows—the easier and less intimidating the situation will be in the long run.
Financial expert and best-selling author Beth Kobliner knows what she's doing when it comes to money and kids. So when she shared some of her most effective tips on how to raise financially savvy girls with us, we couldn't wait to share them with you.
While there certainly was a lot of ground to cover (allowance, bank accounts, and debit cards—oh my!), Beth's top three pieces of advice were too valuable to keep to ourselves
Teach Your Girl to Wait: Sometimes (actually, often!) we have to be patient and work for and save up for the things we want. But waiting is about so much more than waiting to buy things. Teaching her to be patient while waiting in a line, or even while mom and dad are on the phone, will help her understand delayed gratification and help her make smarter money decisions later in life. So in times when there's something she really wants, and it's not her birthday or another holiday when that toy or piece of clothing might be a gift, explain to her that she needs to save for it using her allowance. She might not be thrilled to hear that at first, but she'll feel pride in making that purchase herself, and will learn some seriously valuable lessons along the way.
Use Cash: With the frequent use of credit and debit cards kids are losing the opportunity to understand how money really works. Not only do they miss out on the chance to learn about denominations, how to count change, and how to estimate a purchase total, they might not understand that there’s a correlation between the swipe of a card and an exchange of money at all!
Talk to Your Kids About Money: Take the time to set parameters around what she can (and should!) use her allowance for, explain the process of setting up a bank account, and even get her involved in finding a bank with a good interest rate. Studies show that parents tend to talk to their boys about money far more often than they talk to their girls about financial matters, so make sure she's getting the information she needs to hold her own later on in life. The more you talk to her about dollars and cents from an early age, the more confidence she'll have with finances as she grows up.
Watch the video below to catch even more ways you can give your girl a financial edge in life:
Talking about money can make even the bravest, strongest among us squirm. Many of us were brought up to believe it’s impolite or even flat-out rude to bring up income, wealth, or financial struggles in conversation. But let’s face facts: Kids want to be like other kids, and when money matters come into play, they can feel ashamed about having less—or guilty over having more—than their friends. Financial inequality can be tricky for adults to navigate without having hurt feelings, but when you’re a child and are just learning about these things, it can be even harder to wrap your head around something that can seem unfair and beyond their control.
Obviously, regardless of your family’s financial situation, it’s important to help your girl realize and value the intangibles that she is rich in, above all else. She’s likely rich in friends, love, safety, joy, and so much more. And those are all things money can’t buy. Still, celebrating those things might not erase the hurt feelings that can happen when wealth inequality shows its face on the school playground.
It’s only natural for a girl to feel left out if she can’t afford to go the concert all her friends are going to, or if she doesn’t have the money to get the sneakers all her friends are rocking this year. “Don’t ignore her feelings,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Tell her that you understand why she’s disappointed, and then work together to try to find solutions to her real problem.” For example, if she’s worried about missing out on time with her friends at the concert, suggest that she invite friends over for a free or inexpensive activity that the girls can all get excited about, and that she can feel ownership of—like a sleepover, an afternoon of baking cookies, or a weekend picnic and afternoon soccer game. If she wants a certain brand of clothing or a particular video game that your family can’t afford to buy for her, help her save up for it herself. “Of course you should discuss what she can spend her own money on, but if it’s something reasonably appropriate that will make her feel like one of the group at school, there’s no need to discourage it—it just might take her a while to gather enough money!”
Another tool that can help combat the left-out feeling is confidence. Every girl in school could be wearing a certain brand of jeans, but if your daughter shows up in something totally different (i.e. something your family can actually afford!)—and wears it with pride and confidence—others might take note and start following her lead. Sometimes being different or not having as many resources available to you can actually help you be a leader!
All this said, sometimes kids with more money than their peers get teased or shunned on the playground—and that can feel rotten, too. If other children in your girl’s class—or even her friends!—call her “spoiled” or accuse her of “showing-off,” it could be because they feel uncomfortable about not having as much as she does; but it could also be a sign that your daughter is being anything-but-modest about the things she has and places she gets to go. “Of course she feels excited about the new outfit she got over the weekend, or wants to talk about the vacation your family took over break,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but what she might not realize is that the other kids don’t have the same access to those pricier things.” Tell her that although it’s fun to share the things we’re excited about with friends, it’s important to not seem boastful about them, since that can lead to hurt feelings.
Talking directly about money matters can take some getting used to, but the more you discuss dollars (and sense) with your children, the more they’ll realize their financial status is nothing to be ashamed of. Bonus? Talking about money with your girl today will help set her up for a brighter financial future tomorrow. Win, win!
You love your girl, so it’s only natural to want to fulfill her every desire and dream. In fact, like many parents, you probably sometimes wish you had even more to give her. All that said, there are times when the greatest gift you could give your girl is to not give her the things she wants, and instead to help her earn and save up for them herself. “That’s part of the gift of financial independence, one of the greatest gifts of all,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani-Archibald. “Learning how to budget money and spend it well at an early age can help her confidently make financial decisions for the rest of her life.”
And the truth is, this kind of real-life experience with money is something girls are hungry for. In a recent study conducted by Girl Scouts Research Institute, the top three financial literacy skills girls said they were hoping to learn were how to save money and plan for future goals in general, to make big purchases later in life—like a car or a home, and to pay for their education.
So how can you set her up to be a lifelong saver? Dr. Bastiani-Archibald says it’s simpler than you might think. “The next time your girl asks for something new—not an essential like socks or a backpack if hers has gotten worn out, but something that would be a treat, like a video game system or a new bike—explain the difference between wants and needs and tell her you’re excited to help her come up with a plan to save the money she’ll need to buy it herself.”
If she doesn’t already have a bank account, take her to the bank and help her set one up, then talk with her about how she will use the money she has and future money she may get through her allowance, small jobs she takes on, or holiday gifts. “Teaching kids the ‘spend, save, give’ model of money management can be really helpful,” says Dr. Bastiani-Archibald. “Together, you can decide what percentage of her money she should put toward her big purchase, how much she should set aside for another spending, and how much she’ll give to benefit her community.”
Depending on her age, you can make a chart to hang in her room to keep track of her saving progress, help her follow along with her passbook from the bank, or encourage her to set up her own mini spreadsheet to keep track of her finances.
Help her celebrate milestones in her savings (the halfway point is a big deal, and also a time when she may need some encouragement to keep going!) and tell her how proud you are of the smart money decisions she’s making. By the time she’s saved up enough to make her big purchase, she will have learned important financial literacy skills that will last a lifetime.
Your girl is going to need to know how make smart decisions when negotiating pay, budgeting, spending, saving, and investing later in life—and it’ll all be a lot easier for her if she starts learning now. And the great news is that you don’t have to be a financial whiz to help her learn all about money matters. Borrow these fun (yes, we said fun!) ways to help your daughter get comfortable managing money. She’ll learn a lot in the process, and you just might pick up a thing or two as well!
Whether or not to give kids an allowance, and how to do it right, can be a topic of hot debate among parents. “People differ strongly on this,” says Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archiblad. “Many parents tend to revert to whatever they had growing up—but denying your child an allowance just because you didn’t have one isn’t a great idea. You’re doing your girl a disservice if you wait until she can legally make money to learn how to manage finances.”
Getting an allowance, and then making financial decisions with the money she accumulates over time, will teach her about the difference between wants and needs, the rewards of saving, and yes, even the dangers of impulse spending. “If your girl puts away her allowance for two months to get a new game or toy she’s been wanting, she’ll appreciate it and value it even more than if it was just handed to her,” Dr. Bastiani Archibald notes. Talk to her about her options and help set the pattern of saving, spending, and sharing with a charitable cause. Using cash in front of her, rather than credit or debit cards, will also help her see how real money is exchanged, and help her understand the real value and potential of the money she has.
Dr. Bastiani Archibald advises to give children weekly allowance in relation to their age—50 cents or a dollar per year (so a 10 year old would either get $5 or $10 a week)—and that you don’t tie it to chores or other responsibilities at home. “Of course your daughter should have chores around the house, as they teach her responsibility and teamwork, but she shouldn’t be rewarded with money for doing them,” she says. “That kind of allowance structure could lead to a mindset where she expects rewards for doing just the bare minimum in life—not an attitude that will get her very far!”
Summer is when some of the most fun childhood memories are made, but did you know that it’s also an awesome opportunity for your girl to grow, learn, and become her best self? Here are seven amazing benefits your girl will get from her summer camp experience.
The truth is, sending your girl off to camp is one of the best gifts you can give her. The fun, outdoor adventure, and friends will enrich her life and—perhaps without her even noticing—give her the courage, people skills, and leadership chops to succeed at whatever she sets her mind to.
Did you know that the average American child spends about 44 hours each week in front of electronic media? And with school out and long summer days ahead, it's all too easy to turn to screens for entertainment. But there's no show on earth as fun, challenging, or immersive as the great outdoors.
Whether you live in the bustling city, a quiet suburb, or in the middle of rural America, there are incredible benefits to getting outside. In fact, studies show that spending time in nature helps girls feel more confident and capable overall. Girl Scouts' Chief Girl and Parent Expert, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald teamed up with Fatima Shama, Executive Director of the Fresh Air Fund, to talk about all that Mother Nature has to offer to your family. Check out these major takeaways, then watch the video to learn even more!
It doesn't have to be a big production. While camping, hiking,
and other outdoor adventures certainly have their advantages, so do
seemingly smaller outings, like a simple trip to the playground, a run
in the backyard sprinklers, or even simply a walk around the
You can separate girls from their screens. If she's riding her bike, climbing a rock wall, or planting vegetables she not only won't have free hands to scroll through social media—she'll probably be too engrossed in her current activity to even think of it! But keep in mind that there are fun outdoor-centric apps that might be fun to explore with your girl on your nature trips. Using her phone as a compass or to explore nature photography are great ways to incorporate tech into the experience.
You've got people who want to help. Many local libraries, museums, and community centers across the country offer fun outdoor programs for kids during the summer. If you're not sure what your options are, or what spaces might be safest for your kids to play in, reach out!
Not every girl has a natural love of hiking, climbing, and camping.
Maybe your girl is more the indoor type, preferring to explore her interests with all the comforts of home. That's great! She's interested, she's engaged, and she's learning and growing.
But because girls can benefit so much by getting outside and exploring nature, wouldn't it be great if she took her indoor interests outdoors? That way, she can enjoy her favorite activities with the added benefit of getting outside to broaden and enrich her experiences.
Inspire her! Try one of these suggestions, suited for every type of girl, to infuse the natural world into her traditionally inside pursuits:
Do you recognize your girl on this list? Excellent! Inspiring her to explore in new and different ways is as simple as saying, "Let's try doing this outside!".
"We know from research that spending time outdoors helps girls thrive," says Liz Williams, Outdoor Initiative Lead with Girl Scouts of the USA. "Start with activities she already loves—no matter what they are—and just take them outside. Before you know it, she'll be developing new skills that help her in school, help her socially, and help her gain confidence. There's really no reason not to get out there and give it a try."
Your girl's outdoor experiences don’t need to be elaborate or time-consuming—a simple, daily dose of nature will make a real difference in her life.
Get ready. Get set. Get outside!
Kids have heard that bullying isn’t OK, but what about flipping that message and making sure they’re specifically being kind?
“Young people sometimes think they have to be popular—at any cost—to have power, but it’s important that we teach our kids about the power of kindness,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “When you’re kind, not only do you get a boost of the brain chemical serotonin, which makes you feel happy and calm but so does the person you’re being kind do and all the people who witnessed that act of kindness get that same rush of feel-good hormones. So by taking the effort to do the thoughtful or compassionate thing, your girl can influence the mindset of a whole group of people.”
But it’s not enough to simply encourage our kids to be kind—we need to show them how. According to kids aged 9-11, the top reason they gave for not extending kindness to a kid who’s being picked on or left out is that they didn’t know what to do or say.
So how can you be a kindness role model? Follow these three steps!
Los actos de odio y la violencia extrema, tristemente no son nada nuevo en este mundo, pero cuando este tipo de ataques suceden en suelo estadounidense, dirigidos a personas que simplemente están tratando de pasar un buen rato, puede ser especialmente aterrador para las niñas en nuestras vidas. Es comprensible que este tipo de eventos horrendos hagan que su hija se sienta ansiosa, preocupada, asustada, enojada y confundida, sentimientos muy normales que usted puede ayudarla a explorar y expresar en los días siguientes.
Los padres siempre han tenido que hablar con sus hijos sobre la violencia, pero lo que ahora es diferente es que la tecnología que utilizamos de forma rutinaria nos ha convertido a todos, incluidos los más jóvenes, en testigos virtuales de algunas de las peores atrocidades del mundo. En nuestros teléfonos, tabletas y televisores, obtenemos información gráfica de eventos casi instantáneamente, junto con videos en vivo u otras imágenes gráficas de los mismos. Que un niño vea imágenes de un evento terrorista no es necesariamente un signo de padres poco estrictos, sino el resultado de información e imágenes abundantes en este mundo digital, que siempre está activo.
"Los niños y adolescentes están comprensiblemente asustados y preocupados cuando ven actos de violencia extrema, especialmente cuando otros jóvenes están involucrados,” dice la Dra. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, psicóloga del desarrollo de Girl Scouts. "Las niñas mayores pueden tratar de enterrar sus sentimientos de miedo o tristeza, pero esos sentimientos solo se agravarán y se convertirán en problemas mayores si no se les trata. Al otro lado de la moneda, los niños pequeños no tienen el contexto para entender lo que está sucediendo, por lo que a menudo llenan los espacios en blanco con los peores y más espantosos escenarios posibles. Es por eso que es tan importante que los padres no ignoren las preocupaciones de sus hijos al decir: "No se preocupen por eso" o "Ah, eso no es nada.” Necesitamos tener conversaciones directas y honestas con todos nuestros hijos sobre estos tipos de eventos horribles, y cómo trabaja usted para mantenerlos a salvo.”
Aquí hay algunos consejos sobre cómo puede tener estas conversaciones en su propia casa:
Por encima de todo, tómese el tiempo para darle a su hija un poco más de amor y apoyo. Sus sentimientos son probablemente complicados y confusos para ella en este momento, pero saber que lo tiene a usted en su equipo la ayudará a superar esto.
Imagine this: You’re going about your day and get an unexpected phone call from your girl’s school. She’s physically fine (phew!) but what is wrong seems like your worst nightmare. The principal says your child has been bullying another student at school. Could she really be the school bully?!
“Not my daughter!” you might think because of course, you see the best parts of your girl—her kindness, her funny sense of humor, and more than anything, her sense of right and wrong. But the truth is that even though you'd never dream that your girl could be the "school bully," really anybody, regardless of what a good person they are, can engage in bullying behavior.
People (kids and adults) can bully others from time to time for a variety of reasons. Sometimes people feel pressured into it or pick on others to fit in with a certain group, because they feel powerless in other situations, because they’re looking for attention, or because they’re having trouble working out their own emotions and don’t know how to deal with them in a healthy fashion. The truth is, most people have been on both sides of bullying at one point or another in their lives. Of course, none of those reasons make this kind of behavior OK or acceptable in any way, but thinking about it in these terms can help you get past the defensiveness and onto the problem-solving part of working through this issue.
While it’s absolutely vital to call out bullying and to correct the behavior, know that that’s exactly what it is—a behavior, not an identity. “No one should be defined by her actions,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “which is why we should get away from using the terms 'bully' or 'school bully' to describe kids who've been engaging in bullying behavior with others. Using that term implies there’s nothing more to that girl or boy than those actions and can make a child feel as if that’s all they’ll ever be, that they have no potential to be better. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Your job, as a parent, is to find out what was going on with your girl to cause her to act in this way so you can help her to recognize her behavior – in this instance and potentially others -- and avoid engaging in it in the future. How can you do this? Follow these steps from Dr. Bastiani Archibald:
You may not always be able to be there with your daughter, making sure she’s on her best behavior (and that’s OK—you’re setting her up to learn how to navigate this world on her own!), but there are some things you can do to check in on her social behavior and catch any potential signs of bullying straight away. Pay attention to who she’s hanging out with or talking to online. If any friends suddenly disappear from the picture, ask her what’s going on with them or why you haven’t seen them lately. Ask about the girls she sits with at lunch and who does most of the talking. Are there some kids who want to sit with her at lunch, but she doesn’t want them to? When she and her friends engage in activities, is it always your girl who picks what they’re going to do, or do they trade off? Are there any kids at school that others are unkind to?
Checking in frequently and reminding your daughter of the importance of respecting others can help your girl get past any bullying behaviors and start being an even better friend and ally to others.
"Never give up." "Quitters never win." "Just push through it."
So many of us were raised with these well-meaning sentiments. Often framed as messages of inspiration and resilience, they overlook the fact that sometimes the strongest and most courageous thing you can do in certain situations is step and away and take care of yourself. It’s OK not to be OK.
When Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team competition at the Tokyo Olympics, it took courage for her—arguably the greatest gymnast of all time—to acknowledge her limits that day. And when she said she “truly [feels] like [she has] the weight of the world on [her] shoulders at times," she was setting a positive example and doing the responsible thing by taking care of herself to preserve her mental health.
Cheering on her teammates from the sidelines as they competed and won the Silver medal, rather than being a part of the action? That was not at all what Simone had planned on, but it showed a different kind grace and leadership in a difficult circumstance from a woman who was expected to dominate the competition. And sometimes doing your best looks a lot different than what you, or anyone else, thought it would.
The strength it took to not “sacrifice everything” for a win—when everything could mean her career's end or lifelong injury if she’s having an off day—makes Simone even more of an amazing role model for today’s girls who are facing burnout and mental health struggles at alarming rates. According to the National Association for Mental Illness:
Sadly, in our ultra-competitive society, when girls or women put their well-being above any marked achievement, they're often labeled as weak—when, really, they’re displaying ultimate awareness and protecting themselves from burnout, injury, or worse.
You can always come back when you’re ready
Often, there is no “one shot” to achieve a goal. Some moments are more critical than others, but girls have countless opportunities to shine. Knowing when to walk away and how to set boundaries when something isn’t right for for them, whether in the moment or long-term, is a necessary skill that will help girls face the myriad important moments they are sure to face throughout life.
Talk with your girl about the pressures she faces in her life, and pay attention if she seems overly tired, agitated, or is acting out. Sure, acing that honors class or landing the lead in the school play are things to be proud of—but they should never come at the cost of her health and wellness. Sometimes, especially in today’s world, just putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the day is a success in itself.
Nobody can, or needs to be, “on” all the time
Even tennis champion Naomi Osaka decided to take a break and pay fines (instead of talking to the press during the French Open this year), to preserve her mental health and protect her game on the court—which was her task at hand. Your girl doesn’t have to be famous to be feeling the pressures of our “all-access” society.
Keeping up appearances on social media has become a huge source of stress in young people's lives—especially teen girls—and the pressure to look, act, and seem “perfect” can be overwhelming. Talk with your girl about the importance of taking time to feel and process her authentic feelings rather than always putting on a happy face. As humans, dealing with frustrations, disappointments, sadness, and anger is simply part of life, and working through those emotions, rather than denying them, helps us grow and become stronger people.
It’s OK to say “no”
In an interview with Elle magazine, Beyoncé opened up about the pressure to do it all. Admitting that she used to be someone who would simply tough it out in difficult situations and focus on taking care of everyone else before herself—she said she's learned better. “There are things in my career that I did because I didn’t understand that I could say no,” she said. “We all have more power than we realize.”
If your girl is feeling stressed or overwhelmed, sit down with her and take a look at everything that’s on her plate. She may be juggling more than she can handle—and even taking on things that don’t make her happy—to avoid disappointing people in her life. If possible, help her identify one or two things that she can bow out of or at least put on pause. Stepping away from even just one obligation can give her valuable time to just breathe and relax, which will help her keep going strong in the long run.
Teaching our girls to look out for themselves, and to care for themselves in the moment is one of the most important gifts we can give them.
How can you help your girl understand the power of knowing and respecting her limits? Talk with her and truly listen. Remind her that you love her for who she is—not for what she achieves—and that you’re there to hear her or simply offer a safe space whenever she might need it.
Additionally, consider sharing stories of role models who have done the hard thing by putting themselves first in their own lives, even when others may not have thought it was the best decision. The lessons they teach are a healthy reminder for all of us.
While the CDC continues to recommend all in-person playdates be put on hold due to the threat of COVID-19, there are definitely families across the country that have decided to allow their children to meet up and play with others. Explaining to your girl that you’re not going to let her join in the fun—especially if she’s watching neighborhood kids play right outside her window—can be both challenging and heartbreaking.
Developmental psychologist Dr. Cyndy Karras has some tips to make navigating this difficult situation a little easier.
Acknowledge Her Frustration
Missing out on fun playdates and adventures with her friends—especially after months cooped up inside—is hard on your child. Nothing you can do or say will make that go away, but Dr. Karras has a simple tip for getting through those moments when your girl complains: listen to her and acknowledge her feelings. “You might say something like, ‘I hear you. It’s really hard to see or hear about others having fun together when you can’t be a part of it. Let’s make a list of things we can do together as a family and with friends without needing to meet up,’” suggests Dr. Karras. Giving her ownership over coming up with activities and ideas on how she can connect with others will give her a sense of control and agency.
Don’t Put Down the Neighbors
Nobody needs added conflict and drama in the midst of a global pandemic. “You may not agree with parents who are letting their kids meet up in-person,” says Dr. Karras, “but be mindful of the words you use to discuss how your family’s decision is different from others’.” She suggests explaining that every family has the right to make the decision that feels right for them, but your family is choosing to continue social distancing to keep yourselves and others safe and healthy. “Try to keep the focus on what you and those in your household are doing rather than placing judgment on people your girl knows and likely looks up to.”
Dive into Her World
Obviously she’s not going to have the same experiences playing and doing activities with you as she would with her friends, but being present and taking a more active role in her life whenever possible can help take the sting away from the fun she’s missing out on. Dr. Karras suggests telling your girl you know you’re not her age and you obviously can’t replace her friends, but that you want to do the things she likes doing, whether that’s playing her favorite video game, learning the latest TikTok dances, or building the most elaborate Rube Goldberg machine imaginable. She’ll love being the expert and teaching you about her interests, and you’ll make some incredible family memories in the process, too.
Be Patient and Honest
She’s probably going to feel sad sometimes—but that’s because she’s human and we’re naturally social beings. “Being open, honest, and human really helps kids hear you and relate to you,” says Dr. Karras. “There’s no need to overshare information, but telling her you to miss your friends, too, can help her see that her feelings are normal and healthy—and that she’s not the only one feeling left out right now.” Sharing your experience at an age-appropriate level will help her grow in empathy and can spark a discussion about how you can help each other get through this as a te
Whether you're on school break or it's just the weekend, your family is probably spending more time at home than ever. If you've had enough movie nights to program an entire film festival and are hungry for something (anything!) different, we hear you.
There are lots of tips out there about how to get through all this extra time at home unscathed, but we’d rather you get through it smiling with a ton of fun new memories and experiences under your belt. Here’s how to make it work.
Create a Go-To Fun Kit
If you’re working and need to concentrate on deadlines and meetings, you’ll need your girl to take initiative and create her own fun from time to time. Make it easy for her by putting together a box or large tote bag full of supplies that can spark her imagination or that she can use for specific projects on her own. For instance, you might include individual items, like sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a jump rope, and a magnifying glass, but then also include a DIY sock puppet kit (markers, yarn, glue, spare buttons if you have them, and a few old white socks) in its own bag.
Start a Book Club
If your girl and her friends love reading, coordinate with other parents and have the girls all read the same book. When they’re finished, host a special playdate over video chat where the girls dress up like their favorite characters and share art they’ve made inspired by their favorite scenes. It’s worth reaching out to the book’s author as well to see if she’d be interested in popping into the girls’ meeting to say hi and answer any questions. You might not get a yes, but you definitely won’t if you don’t try!
Pick a Theme for Each Week
Have your kids help choose fun themes for each week, and then ask her to suggest ways to incorporate the themes into meals, activities, and even the movies you might watch in the evenings. The most important thing about this idea is to let your girl take the lead. If she’s busy making posters to hang around your home or decorating sugar cookies with icing whiskers for “cat week,” she’ll feel more ownership and excitement over these projects and she’ll be less likely to complain that she’s bored while you’re on an important conference call.
See Nature Through Her Eyes
Whether you have access to a local park, your backyard, or even just a tree or two on your street, give her a small notebook and have her fill it with drawings, notes, or even poems about what she sees outside. What colors does she notice? Are there birds or squirrels around? What about people and pets? Does she notice any bugs? What does the air smell like? How do things look close up versus far away?
Learn a Whole Dance Routine Together
Have your girl pick a music video she loves and then learn the dance routine together as a family. Who cares if you look a little silly or can’t do every move perfectly—that’s not the point. This activity will get everyone moving, which can boost your mood and improve sleep, and probably get you laughing, which is never a bad thing. When you’ve finally got the whole routine memorized and can do it from start to finish, record yourselves doing the dance. There’s no need to share on social media unless everyone agrees that’s a good idea (and definitely don’t share if anyone doesn’t feel good about it!), but you’ll be so glad to have it as a sweet family memory to look back on in years to come.
Swap Screens for Sundaes
If you’re like many families, you’ve been spending more time on screens than ever. Give your eyes a break by trading your phones, tablets, laptops, and even the TV for a yummy sundae bar once a week. You might hear a grumble or two at first when your kids (or even your partner!) hear that you’re setting aside some screen-free time, but once they realize it comes with the benefit of a big scoop of ice cream and DIY toppings, we doubt you’ll hear many complaints.
There’s no doubt the world has thrown us a few lemons this year. For our kids’ sake and our own sanity, though, it’s time we start making some lemonade. You might be surprised by how sweet it is.
Lately, it seems like the news has been more and more terrible. With in-person events indefinitely postponed, sports seasons called off, the curtains drawn on school plays and dance recitals, and many schools staying closed for the rest of the school year, some might feel like canceling all celebrations, period—including those that mark personal milestones and achievements. But in a way, celebrations are needed now more than ever to lift kids’ spirits and give them hope for a brighter tomorrow.
And when we take the time to focus on family, friendship, love, and accomplishments—even when we can’t be together in all the ways we’d like to be or can’t celebrate with the same activities we might have planned on—we’re showing our kids how to make their own fun and enjoy the simple pleasures in life. So you’re not just creating special memories with your girl, you’re teaching her life skills that will help her through ups and downs for years to come.
Here are a few ideas to get you in the party spirit, whether it’s your kid’s birthday or your own, graduation, or an anniversary.
Get Out of Town (Even When You Can’t)
With a little imagination and the help of a printer or a few simple art supplies, you and your family can transform your home into just about anywhere you might like to have your party. Wish you could be at your girl’s favorite theme park? Post pictures of her favorite characters around the house, prepare amusement-park-type food and play music or movies that go with the theme. Hoped to visit another country for your celebration? Use construction paper or cut up old boxes to create miniature versions of famous landmarks (think Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, etc.), try a recipe from that part of the world, and practice a few phrases in the language spoken there if you’re not already fluent.
Help Her Find the Love
If your girl is celebrating a milestone or achievement while you’re at home, ask friends and family members to write cards and letters to her and send them to you in advance. Then, the night before her big day, hide them around the house and give her a “treasure map” in the morning that helps her find all the messages of love and support. It’s a special way to include loved ones outside your household, and the notes and cards will make a wonderful keepsake she’ll look back on for years to come.
Host a Photo Scavenger Hunt
Get everybody outside, and spark some healthy competition while you’re at it. Make a list of 10-20 things you might see on any neighborhood walk (like a blue car, a pigeon, a fire hydrant, etc.), and then send it to a few other families, challenging them to a photo scavenger hunt. Everyone will go for a walk in their neighborhoods at the same time, and whoever sends photos of the items from the list to the group first wins bragging rights.
Spread the Good Will
If your friends and loved ones have the means, you may want to consider asking them to celebrate with you by donating to a cause that you or your girl feels passionate about. But money isn’t the only way to make a difference. Suggesting they write to or call government officials in support of that same cause is a powerful, free way to join forces for good and celebrate a big day.
Lots of things are hard these days, and so many of us are feeling the stress. Beyond doing everything in your power to keep your loved ones healthy, there’s so much day-to-day stuff that can go sideways at a moment’s notice. Whether your kid has a full meltdown while you’re on an important conference call (naturally making you feel like the parent of the year) or the grocery store is yet again out of the few things your picky eater actually likes—none of it is easy. And when you’re used to juggling many different priorities pretty well, it’s easy to be hard on yourself when things aren’t going right.
Stop. That. Right. Now.
Here’s the thing: we’re dealing with a totally different reality right now than even just a few weeks ago. And when you’re on new terrain, the standards of success have got to change. We’re all learning how to live life in a radically different way, so expecting yourself to flawlessly manage a budget, parent flawlessly, be a good friend and community member, and maintain a spotless household right now is plainly unrealistic.
The best any of us can do right now is, well, our best. Some days that might look different from other days. Perhaps you’ve lost a loved one or a family friend. Or your girl is having nightmares and keeping you up all night when you have to work in the morning. Maybe you’re still trying to get unemployment benefits figured out and operating under a much smaller budget. Perhaps none of those things have happened, but the news of the world just has you feeling really down. It’s all understandable and perfectly normal to not be at full speed right now.
So be kind to yourself. Instead of focusing on the dishes in the sink or your Mount Everest of a laundry pile, stop and take a minute to congratulate yourself for every little thing you’re doing right. Everyone in your family got fed today? Victory! Your girl learned something (whether it was multiplication or how to make Grandma’s spaghetti recipe)? Amazing stuff! There was genuine laughter in your home—or at least no sibling fights? Gold stars all around!
Everyday acts have become superhuman feats for so many of us. And you might not realize it, but just by putting one foot in front of the other and doing your best, you’re showing your girl what it means to be resourceful, brave, and hopeful when faced with a real challenge. That’s some impressive parenting!
So, if you can let the dishes soak overnight while you soak in a bubble bath, do it. You deserve a break and a big bravo just for being you.
Like a lot of us, many kids are having a hard time being cooped up at home during the pandemic. They miss their friends. They miss their soccer teams and Girl Scout troops. They miss their freedom. But even though it makes sense that your children might be moodier or more sensitive than usual right now, constant fighting, disrespectful behavior, and general acting out are still not OK.
Sadly, there’s no magic wand you can wave that will make your family
get along 100 percent of the time. Happily, developmental psychologist
Dr. Cyndy Karras recommends these five simple steps you can take to
make the home front a little more peaceful.
Hard truth? Even parents and caregivers who are usually amazing at keeping their cool are having a hard time these days.
It’s no surprise as to why. With social distancing in effect in many
areas of the country and people falling sick from COVID-19, millions
of families have been asked to shift their lifestyles dramatically.
Not only are so many people working from home, trying to make
deadlines, and look halfway presentable on video conference calls with
the boss, but so many of their kids are home, too, because of
widespread school closures. And when everyone’s in close quarters
dealing with feelings of anxiety, fear, or even just confusion?
Tempers can run hot.
In an ideal world, we’d stay calm, cool, and collected. But the world is far from ideal. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you yelled at the kids or overreacted to bad behavior on their part—but don’t brush your actions under the rug like they never happened, either. Here are three ways you can make peace with your kiddo and move on as a stronger, more resilient family unit.
Mainly, remember to cut yourself a little slack. The days, weeks,
and even months ahead may be filled with challenges unlike any we’ve
seen before. Not every day of parenting is going to be perfect (or
even close), and that’s OK. We’re all doing the best we can and hoping
for a brighter, healthier tomorrow for our families and the
In the world impacted by the new coronavirus, it can seem like everything fun or even meaningful has been canceled. From birthday parties and vacations to school plays, sports, and possibly even graduation ceremonies, a lot of special moments your girl has hoped and planned for are suddenly either postponed or simply not happening.
Of course, in the grand scheme of things, missing out on a planned field trip or play date is a small amount of suffering compared to those whose loved ones may become ill or are at high risk for the virus, but that doesn’t mean your girl won’t feel disappointed. Here’s how you can help her cope and learn to be resilient in these rapidly changing times.
Trying to shield your girl from the truth for as long as possible might seem easier than telling her something she’s really been looking forward to has been canceled. But when the world is upside down, your girl is depending on you more than ever to be on her team as someone she can trust. You might not have all the answers—some events are being postponed indefinitely, some canceled altogether—and that’s OK, but it’s important not to hide information from her. If your younger girl is having trouble understanding why plans have to change, let her know that the grownups are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy and that some activities are going to have to wait a while until the grownups can figure this out and make sure everyone’s out of harm’s way.
Give Her Space
Bottling up feelings and acting as though everything is fine when it’s actually not isn’t good for anyone’s mental health. It’s important for her to know that feeling disappointed right now is totally normal and even healthy. If she needs a day or two to sulk in her room or she’s feeling extra moody, let her know you’re disappointed about things right now too, and understand that she must be hurting—then give her a little time and space to get out her frustrations. Encourage her to safely connect with friends who are likely going through similar disappointments right now. A sense of community and friendship will help her see that she’s not the only one feeling sad or angry and can make her feel much better in the long run.
Have Her Lead the Path Forward
A lot of things are uncertain right now, but that doesn’t mean the world has stopped spinning. Life goes on, just a bit differently than we all planned. Sit with her and have her come up with new plans that work within your current circumstances. If she’s upset that a dance recital or school play will be canceled, are there other creative ways she could share her performance from home—perhaps using video? If she’s disappointed about missing a friend’s birthday or another special occasion, perhaps she could make something to mail to the loved ones she won’t be celebrating with in person. Coming up with creative solutions in challenging times is a skill that can give her a sense of control during the coronavirus pandemic and show her how to thoughtfully be of service to others throughout her life.
Let Her Help
One of the best ways to get over a disappointment? Helping others work through hard times of their own. A lot of people are feeling scared, angry, and lonely right now and could use a little cheering up. Have her think of ways that she can bring some happiness and joy to people feeling isolated or frightened. From writing silly songs to sing to her grandparents on their next call to writing thank-you cards to the health professionals working hard to keep us all safe, finding a way to give back can give her a sense of purpose and control while also making the world a better place.
Rule number one when it comes to emergencies? Stay calm. But with the new coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading rapidly around the globe—and everyone from news anchors to influencers on social media talking about worst case scenarios—stress and worry can seem downright contagious.
Basically, your girl could likely use a sense of calm in her life right about now, and you can help.
In fact, having a conversation with her about coronavirus could be the most important thing you do with your girl all week. Depending on her age, simply asking what she’s heard about coronavirus and how she’s feeling about it not only helps ensure she’s getting correct information but also lets her know this topic isn’t off-limits and you’re there to support her and help her understand her emotions—whatever they may be.
Here are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to handling this subject with care.
DO let her know that feelings of fear, sadness, anger, and even confusion are totally normal in times like these. Sometimes just knowing that it’s OK to talk about her feelings can give her a sense of calm.
DON’T lead into the conversation by asking if she’s scared or upset. If she’s not already feeling that way, there’s no need to suggest that she should!
DO answer her questions about things she’s observing—like face masks—in an age-appropriate and accurate way.
DON’T be afraid to admit you don’t have all the answers! Unless you’re a medical professional and highly versed in situations like these, chances are, you may not have all the facts. What you do have on your side? Experts who can help you and your daughter make sense of things. Turn to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted resources, if ever you’re not sure about what you’re hearing in the news or what your girl is hearing on the playground.
DO give your girl the tools to stay as healthy as possible. According to the CDC, washing our hands properly, avoiding touching our faces, staying home unless we really need to go out, and covering coughs or sneezes with a tissue that gets thrown away immediately are all smart, simple things we can do to prevent the spread of not just coronavirus but also many other illnesses. Taking practical steps to protect herself can give your girl a sense of control in times when she might otherwise feel afraid.
DON’T turn a blind eye to stereotypes or generalizations that have been made about who “started” coronavirus or who might be most likely to have it. Sadly, in times of fear, people often look for someone to blame. Remind your girl that a person’s skin color, the language they speak, and the country their family comes from has nothing to do with the amount of respect and kindness they deserve in this world and that there is no type of person more likely to have or get the virus than others.
DO let her know that, as always, any and all personal contact she has with others should be governed by her own comfort level. You may want to talk to her about minimizing physical contact (like shaking hands or avoiding sharing snacks from the same container), according to CDC guidelines.
DON’T feed the culture of panic. Remember: your girl is taking her cues from you. If you’re staying on track, she’s more likely to as well.
DO let her know that this is a conversation you can continue as the days and weeks go by. If she thinks of questions she forgot to ask, you’re here to help. And in the case that the situation with coronavirus changes and there’s different or more information that she should know, you’ll bring it to her.
DON’T forget the power of the basics. Doubling down on routines, including mealtimes, bedtime rituals, and quality family time, can go a long way in keeping her world as calm and steady as possible.
International conflict is sadly nothing new, but thanks to social media and a 24-hour news cycle, kids are now exposed to the ins and outs of the global stage like never before. It’s no wonder they have questions about whether the United States is about to enter a new war, if there will be a military draft, whether attacks in the Middle East will affect their safety or that of their loved ones, and other topics being debated online.
In these challenging times, there's no need to have all the answers to calm and reassure your girl. Here’s how to navigate these difficult conversations and help put her mind at ease.
Check in with her as the days and weeks go by and tell her you love her and are here for her no matter what. Most of all, make sure your girl has the time and space to ask questions and express her emotions. Just knowing that you take her thoughts and feelings seriously will help her feel more secure.
Sick of asking your daughter if she had a good day only to get a “mmhmm” or “yeah” in response? What about the joys of competing with her favorite video game or social influencer for attention? We hear you and we feel your pain.
The thing is, you can’t really blame your girl for not being engaged if you’re only asking whether she has soccer practice this weekend or if she finished cleaning her room. Of course, in your mind, you’re showing interest in her life and passions—but to her, you’re just making small talk (and asking yes or no questions, which don’t actually require a super involved answer!).
Breakthrough the clutter this week by trying one of our 25 favorite dinnertime conversation starters. Don’t usually sit at the table for meals? Start now! It’s a great way to foster family conversations and togetherness, which is why these are conversations that everyone can and should be a part of. (Hint: they’re also great for long car rides!)
Get started tonight and you just might be surprised by how much your girl has to say!
There are some conversations that no parent or child is eager to have. Talking about physical and sexual abuse with your girl can be uncomfortable for both of you, but a look at the numbers tells us it’s a conversation that can’t wait.
Approximately 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys experience sexual abuse. In 2017, Child Protective Services investigated more than 3.5 million cases of alleged abuse against children. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and an important reminder to start this conversation today.
Some families might shy away from exposing their children to recent allegations against pop stars, film makers, and organizations, but experts say this is actually an important opportunity to discuss abuse with kids. “Young girls and boys are watching and listening to everything around them,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “They may not be discussing such issues in front of you, but they’re almost definitely thinking about them, and they may even be discussing issues of violence and abuse in the lunchroom at school, or following conversations on social media. By addressing the topics of sexual violence and abuse head-on, parents and guardians can make sure their girls get the facts, understand that they can discuss these topics at home, and know how to be a good friend to peers who might be dealing with abuse.”
Still, the idea of this conversation can be daunting. Nobody wants to scare their child into thinking bad things will happen to them, but on the other hand, not discussing it leaves your girl more vulnerable.
Here are a few points you’ll want to make sure to cover:
Keep in mind that these conversations aren’t a one-and-done type of thing. By discussing the issues of physical and sexual abuse early and often in an age-appropriate way, your girl will be more likely to feel comfortable telling you if someone has hurt her. It may never be an easy conversation to have, but the more times you bring it up, the easier it will get.
Sexual violence and abuse can have a ripple effect. Even just hearing that a loved one has gone through something so horrible can cause nightmares, regressive behaviors like bedwetting, or signs of anxiety-like recurring headaches and stomachaches. If your girl is having a tough time, there’s no need to take this on alone. Reach out to your school counselor or a medical professional for resources and additional help.
If your girl is angry, there’s probably a good reason why. Anger is the emotion that tells us when something doesn’t seem right or fair or that we feel threatened in some way—and in today’s world, there are lots of things that might fit the bill. From school dress codes to injustice to climate change, her list of “things I’m mad about” might go way beyond your family’s screen-time rules, not making the team, or the curfew she wishes were a little later.
But even if she’s angry over something that seems insignificant and not one of the larger problems facing society that feels more appropriate to you to be angry about, it’s important that she learns how to acknowledge and manage her anger instead of keeping it all inside. Here are five ways you can support her through these tough times.
Anger is powerful because it can often be the first step toward creating meaningful change to make things better. So be sure your girl knows the stories of the angry girls and women who’ve used their emotions to change the world. Rosa Parks was angry and channeled those feelings into actions that propelled the civil rights movement. Dolores Huerta was angry, and it fueled the commitment and dedication that eventually secured better protections for farmworkers. The girls and women of the #MeToo movement are angry, and they’re changing society to keep us all safer. Greta Thunberg—a 16-year-old living in Sweden—is angry about climate change, and her outspokenness and fearless leadership recently earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
With your support, your girl can go beyond managing her anger to actually using it for good.
Beyond a wonderful way to honor and celebrate your family’s heritage, raising your girl to speak more than one language can give her a big leg up when it comes to landing a job, traveling the globe, and even learning new concepts in general. “The more ways your daughter has to express herself, the better,” says Dr. Adriana Weisleder, Director of the Child Language Lab at Northwestern University.
But there are probably a few things you don’t know about being a truly bilingual girl in today’s world. Here are six things bilingual kids want you to know:
Some things are obviously not cool. Catcalling 11-year-old girls? (Or anyone?) Not cool. Teaching girls that fat is the opposite of pretty? Not cool. But what about “lovingly” teasing your girl about her body?
Some people have a hard time with this one, insisting it’s absolutely acceptable—especially within the family—to tease about the shape of a girl’s tush, the size of her chest, her height, or her figure in general. But they seriously need a wakeup call. We’re not saying anyone has meant any harm or has had bad intentions while kidding around like this. What we are saying is that these actions can cause harm and lead to lifelong issues related to self-esteem, confidence, body image, and emotional development. Basically, these jokes are the opposite of harmless.
Still, we’ve all heard the excuses, so let’s break them down (and then throw them in the trash, where they belong).
BAD REASON #1: “But she laughs along! Everyone’s having fun. It’s
If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve likely laughed or smiled your way through a situation that made you uncomfortable or nervous because you didn’t know what else to do or didn’t want to cause a scene and seem rude. There’s a good chance this is what your girl is doing when faced with jokes about her body. Yikes.
BAD REASON #2: “I put up with jokes like this when I was a
teenager! Everybody’s too sensitive these days.”
Just because something was seen as acceptable among certain groups when you or your girl’s grandparents were young doesn’t mean it was right. We, as a society, are working to become better, kinder, and more welcoming to all people all the time. Keeping your lips zipped about her body is one very simple way you can help.
BAD REASON #3: “It’s just her brother teasing her. Boys will be
No, no, no. Don’t insult your son’s emotional intelligence or sensitivity. We need to start expecting more from boys. They are just as capable of being kind, respectful, and polite as girls, and it’s time to stop giving them a free pass for bad behavior. Allowing this kind of teasing in your family is setting your girl up to expect lousy treatment from boys and men in her life, while teaching your boy that degrading women and girls is completely acceptable. Essentially, you’ll be doing everyone a favor when you nip this one in the bud.
BAD REASON #4: “It’s just her sister teasing her! You know how
Oof. While it’s true that sisters aren’t always going to get along, girls already get enough flack about their bodies from society and don’t need more of it from their sisters. If you notice one of your girls making jokes about the other’s body, pull her aside and ask her privately why she does it. Perhaps she’s feeling insecure about her own body or jealous of the way her sister looks. There’s even a chance that kids at school are making comments about her or her sister’s body and that she’s just parroting them to fit in or make herself feel cooler. At any rate, let her know that just like it’s not OK to joke about other things people can’t control—like the color of their skin or the accent they have—it’s never OK to joke about their body.
BAD REASON #5: “But I don’t mean any harm!”
Intentions and actions are two very different things. Just because you don’t mean harm doesn’t mean the things you say aren’t hurtful. If you think jokes about bodies are so funny, go ahead and tell them about your own body, that’s your right—but leave other people out of it.
You’re raising your girl to be responsible for what she says and does, and know when and how to give a sincere apology when she messes up. But is she apologizing more than she needs to?
Studies show women are more likely than men to presume they were in the wrong or think their own actions might have upset someone, and those patterns start early. There could be many reasons for this, but some think girls and women are quick to apologize because they’re taught to “keep the peace” and be nurturers who put the emotional wellbeing and happiness of others first.
So often, girls and women start talking by saying, “I’m sorry, but I feel like [fill in the blank]”—and that sentence structure can literally become a habit.
The problem? When your girl apologizes for something that wasn’t her fault, others might start to see her as someone who is at fault. Someone whose shortcomings inconvenience others, even if that’s far from the case.
Read this list with your girl, and remind her that although it’s important to make amends when she’s truly done something wrong, apologizing when she hasn’t can undermine how others see her and damage her self-worth.
There's no need to say "sorry”…
So what can she say instead of sorry? Tell your girl to start by saying how she’s feeling in short, declarative sentences. So instead of “I’m sorry, I have a question,” she could say, “I have a question.” Skipping the apology doesn’t make her rude—in fact, it puts apologies back in their rightful role as a way to make amends when she’s actually done something hurtful or wrong.
Stress to your girl the importance of speaking with intention. Apologizing for no reason or when she’s not at fault dilutes the sentiment. Have her save it for when it counts. When it’s heartfelt and for the right reasons, the power of “sorry” will be more meaningful both to her and to the person on the receiving end!
You’ve seen the holiday movies filled with happy family gatherings, hot cocoa–fueled heart to hearts, and alarmingly good-looking strangers coming together to bring joy to the world. They’re fun, festive, and—at least for many of us—pure fantasy.
In real life, the end-of-year parties and presents often come with a lot of pressure. So much so that one out of every three adults says their stress levels go up during the holidays. And if you’re feeling a bit frazzled? Chances are your girl is, too.
“Kids are super intuitive and pick up on the moods of those closest to them,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “So if you want your girl to have a happy, relaxed holiday, one of the best things you can do is give yourself a bit of a break—literally AND figuratively.”
If that sounds easier said than done, read up on these six-holiday truths that’ll make everybody’s holiday a little happier.
Gathering with family and friends to celebrate the holidays is a time-honored tradition that many of us look forward to. But—let’s face it—family members come to the table with a wide range of attitudes and beliefs, especially when it comes to gender dynamics. Sometimes inappropriate comments can turn joy at being together to hurt feelings or anger. So should you let it slide and pass the sweet potatoes, or should you address inappropriate or sexist behavior head on to support your girl and others?
“Every family is different, and every situation is unique,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “So while it might be best for one family to use a cringeworthy moment as an opportunity to teach kids about choosing our battles—always an important one—it might be important to another that they set an example for the younger people at the table by standing up to sexism and saying something.”
With a little diplomacy, it’s often possible to both address the issue at hand and keep the conversation constructive. If you think you might find yourself in one of these situations, use these tips to think ahead about what you might say or do. “Emotions can run high when it comes to family and the holidays—and being rude in response to rudeness doesn’t solve anything and can potentially escalate the issue,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald.
The Situation: Relatives Who Police the Plates
At big family dinners, unhealthy focus is sometimes put on how much (or how little) the girls and women at the table are eating. From grandma commenting on your daughter going back for seconds (especially if she’d never say anything about your nephew doing the same) to other guests telling your relatively thin daughter to eat up so she can fill out that strapless dress and look good for prom, the way families talk about girls’ and women’s bodies can leave its mark in damaging ways.
Before it happens: Whether relatives have a track record of policing others’ plates or you know your daughter is struggling with body image and food issues at the moment, Sheila Heen, bestselling author of Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, suggests taking time before dinner to have a conversation with the other adults who will be present. “Make a few calls and give people a heads up that, although you appreciate their concern—these comments usually do come from a place of wanting to help, even if it’s misguided!—it’s actually best and most helpful if they don’t bring it up or comment on more sensitive topics, like your child’s weight or eating habits,” explains Heen.
In the moment: If you hear someone critiquing what your daughter or niece chooses to eat and feel the need to stick up for her, try saying something that gets your point across, but in a positive way. Dr. Bastiani Archibald suggests, “The food is delicious, and we’re in wonderful company. Let’s focus on that and let everyone enjoy the meal in their own way.”
The Situation: Sexist Jokes or Comments
From “have you heard the one about the girl who . . . ” to “that’s a job for a man!,” chatter that was commonplace in years past has no place at today’s dinner table (or anywhere else, for that matter). But when it’s your host or a beloved grandparent making the comment, the right response can be less than clear. “Some may think they’re just being funny with these comments,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “But even if they mean no harm, it’s important to note that the youngest members of your family are looking to their elders as role models and listening to every single word.”
Before it happens: If anyone who will be in attendance has a history of making sexist or inappropriate comments or “jokes,” consider talking to your kids about it ahead of time, and listen to their thoughts. Heen advises, “Let them know what your strategy will be for dealing with it, and why—but also listen to their ideas and feelings when coming up with a plan.” Helping kids, especially older children who may feel impassioned in the moment, think about all the dynamics at play can give them the tools to speak up with both confidence and grace at the right time, should they feel the need to.
In the moment: If what’s said degrades or generalizes women and girls in a negative way, you can use it as an opportunity to be a role model for your kids by showing them constructive ways of speaking up with confidence. “If you’re going to say something,” suggests Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “try to be quick and to the point, and give them the benefit of the doubt before transitioning to a more positive subject.” This approach lets everyone know what kind of speech and behavior is unacceptable but also sends the signal that you’ve said your piece and can now continue to be friendly and move on. Try something like, “You probably didn’t mean it this way, but that type of [joke/statement/comment] is hurtful. While I’ve got your ear, I heard you got a new job! Tell us about it!”
The Situation: Girls Clean Up While Boys Kick Back
Last we checked, boys and men were equally as capable as girls and women at clearing the table, putting away leftovers, and doing the dishes. Yet in many homes, these more domestic chores are still relegated to female family members while the guys are invited to kick back and relax in front of the TV.
Before it happens: If you know there’s traditionally been a gender imbalance when it comes to after-dinner cleanup and other chores, Heen recommends having a conversation with your immediate family leading up to the get-together. “You might want to tell your kids that, because you don’t follow traditional gender-based roles at home, you’re going to suggest that all the kids—boys and girls—pitch in this year,” she explains. She also notes that reaching out to other parents who will be present could be helpful. “If you don’t think the way things have been done in the past is fair, there might be others who feel the same way but haven’t felt empowered to act,” she says. One way to make newly shared responsibilities go a bit more smoothly? Write the names of all the children on slips of paper and put them in a “chore jar,” Heen suggests. Then they can draw their names out for specific jobs one-by-one at random. Fair and square.
In the moment: Before you blow a gasket at your host’s insistence that your daughter is needed in the kitchen (while your son isn’t asked to pitch in), take a deep breath and compose yourself. “It’s totally possible to stay calm and respectful even while disagreeing with the gender roles set up by your host,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “If you choose to address the imbalance, you can mention that this is a perfect chance for the boys and girls to practice the skills they’ll need when they’re fending for themselves in a few years—plus, the job will get done a lot quicker and leave more time for relaxation if everyone pitches in.” If you’re met with a hostile glare or get pushback, you may decide to give in and then discuss your decision with your kids later, especially if you’re the guest in someone else’s home. But by speaking up in the first place, you still let the girls in the family know you see them and support them.
Girls are getting a lot of mixed messages these days. If they speak their minds, experiment with fashion and style, or show more interest in social media than storybooks, society tells them they’re growing up too fast. Meanwhile, several communities now have laws that say if your girl goes trick-or-treating past the seventh grade, she could serve jail time—no joke!—because she’s “too old” for kid stuff. A scary message, indeed.
Growing up is hard enough for girls to navigate without everyone weighing in on whether it’s happening on the proper schedule. “There’s so much going on during adolescence—not just with the physical changes that accompany puberty, but with increased responsibilities, navigating relationships and emotions,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “While your girl may be excited at the idea of being a teenager and the freedoms she might associate with that, she may very well also feel nervous, intimidated, or simply out of her depth at the same time.”
Continuing to participate in some of her most beloved childhood and family traditions—like dressing up and trick-or-treating—can provide a sense of stability, comfort, and no-pressure fun in her sometimes-stressful world. Sure, she might be interested in some more grown-up TV shows and thinking about college, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to leave the comforts of her childhood behind for good.
“Parenting a teen can be tricky,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Some might cling to the idea of their daughter as their baby girl, resisting or even ignoring her pleas for independence as she gets older. Others may be so excited for their girls to grow into successful young women that they speed them right along, away from the simple pleasures of their childhood. But the best thing always is to take a step back, listen to your girl, and then meet her where she is developmental.”
So let her take the lead this Halloween—whether she’s excited to rake in the candy with friends from school or would rather stay in and watch a spooky movie with her bestie. After all, this holiday can be built around creativity, imagination, and fun. Three things we hope none of us outgrow!
Over the past couple of weeks, thousands of infants, toddlers, and teens have been separated from their parents at the U.S./Mexico border. Although these events may be heartbreaking to those who care about children’s welfare, those who are most vulnerable, of course, are the children themselves. And beyond the kids who are currently being held in detention centers, children all over the country have been exposed to news coverage and discussions that may have them feeling anxious, scared, and confused, wondering if they might be the next to not know when they’ll see their loved ones again.
“When kids hear about or see other kids who look like themselves or their classmates in dangerous situations—be it in the aftermath of a natural disaster, a school shooting, or events like those taking place at the border right now—it’s natural for them to wonder if they or their friends might suffer the same fate,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “As parents and caregivers, our role is to help children navigate this frightening time with honest, age-appropriate information, even if we’re still trying to make sense of things ourselves.”
Although you might think these issues are too grown-up to discuss with your girl or that she’s unaware of what’s happening, it’s unrealistic to think you can shield her from these events entirely. Even if you keep the news off when your daughter is around, she’s likely reading about these issues on social media, overhearing opinions about the situation in adult conversations, and even discussing it with her friends at school.
“When kids only have a small part of the story or have heard rumors from a potentially unreliable source, their minds tend to jump to the most terrifying conclusions,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. Here’s how you can step in to support your girl.
On June 19, 2018, Girl Scouts of the USA joined other members of Leadership 18, a coalition of CEOs from some of the nation’s largest and most influential human service nonprofits, to call on the Trump administration to halt “zero tolerance” immigration policy. Read more about the statement from the coalition.
It’s like second nature: phone in hand, she snaps about 2,000 selfies, then posts the best one using the cutest, silliest, or most flattering filter or photo-editing app.
Whether you think this routine is a waste of time or totally harmless fun, there’s no question that your girl is growing up in an age in which girls have more control than ever over how they present themselves to the world—and there’s real power in that. But the thing pretty much every superhero movie and fairy tale has taught us about power? It can both help and hurt those who wield it.
“Trying on different looks and experimenting with self-image, be it
through clothing, a new hairstyle, or even one of these selfie
filters, is absolutely normal and a healthy and fun part of growing
up. This process may seem superficial to some, but it helps girls
figure out who they are and who they want to be,” says Girl Scouts’
developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald.
So what’s the downside? Filters that erase perceived “flaws” often thin and elongate facial features, widen eyes, and lighten skin tones. This can feed your girl’s insecurities and, ultimately, limit and damage her sense of self.
“Some filters, like the puppy one with the funny nose, are just good fun,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “But the filters and photo-editing apps that claim to improve her looks are essentially telling her there’s something about her appearance that isn’t good enough, something that’s wrong and needs fixing.” And if her filtered selfies get more likes and positive feedback on her social networks than her unedited photos—which is often the case—that can reinforce the idea that this other “fantasy” version of herself is better.
It’s not just a theory that these distorted images are causing people to feel insecure. A recent report said that in the last year alone, 55 percent of plastic surgeons have seen patients seeking surgery or other procedures that could help them “look better in their selfies” or who wanted to look more like they do on their phone’s screen in real life. Scary stuff.
So should you forbid your daughter from taking selfies or using filters? In short, no.
“Flat-out forbidding your girl to use selfie filters isn’t going to make her feel better about herself or boost her self-esteem; in fact, it could lead to her feeling left out and ostracized from her friend group,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. Selfie culture tends to center around girls more than boys, so use of these social tools and apps may well be social currency among her friend group. “Plus, as a parent, you’re going to have bigger fish to fry when it comes to keeping her safe, and it’s sometimes best to pick your battles so she really listens and follows your recommendations when you do have to draw a line to keep her out of harm’s way.”
That said, having meaningful conversations about social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and discussing the filters and apps she and her friends use on their photos can go a long way. Here are some ways to tackle the subject (without making her roll her eyes and tune out!).
Let Her Speak for Her Selfie
The easiest way to get her to open up about her selfie habits is by letting her be the expert. Have her grab her phone, then try out some of her favorite filters and photo-editing apps together. Chances are, you’ll have some laughs, but you’ll also see your faces morph before your eyes like in a funhouse mirror.
Ask her how many of her friends use these filters and why she thinks they’re so popular. Really take a step back and let her teach you and lead the conversation.
Get a Feeling for What’s Out of Focus
Many of these selfie-editing apps claim to erase perceived “imperfections,” but what are they really erasing? Talk with her about what’s missing when she uses these filters and apps.
She might be happy about any blemishes or acne that have been deleted, but what else has changed? Did the selfie-improvement apps or filters also delete the freckles that dapple her cheeks? Has her cute nose—the one that looks just like her beloved grandmother’s—been thinned and minimized to the point that she doesn’t even look like her own family? Have her rosy cheeks or glowing skin been lightened or whitewashed? Is the shape of her face even the same?
When she realizes what’s changed about her appearance, ask her how she feels, then encourage her to discuss those emotions. “Your daughter should never be ashamed of the realities of her own appearance, but she may very well say she likes seeing her face thinner or her eyes wider,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “That can be heartbreaking to hear, and of course you’d never in a million years agree with her, but stick around and try to listen without judgment. It’s important that she feels comfortable talking to you about these things.”
Transform Her from Model to Role Model
Ask your girl who she follows on social media and which influencers she thinks are cool. When she shows you their accounts, ask whether she likes them because of how they look or because of what they do. Then talk about the difference between being a model (someone who fits society’s standards of looking good) and being a role model (someone who spends their time actually doing good).
Scrolling through perfect selfies on social media can make girls feel as though their looks are their most valuable asset. It’s important to remind your girl of the qualities and talents that you value most in her. And it may be easier for her to start loving those things about herself when she sees them mirrored in other inspiring women and girls.
Luckily, there are plenty of awesome and diverse role models on social media who can be a great influence on your daughter. Help identify a few role models who also share some of your girl’s physical attributes. Seeing people who look like her achieving great things (and getting positive attention for it!) might help her embrace—and even learn to celebrate—her own natural appearance.
It might also help her to see that there’s more to life than that flower-crown photo filter she loves so much. Spoiler alert? The social media accounts of the most powerful, creative, and interesting people in the world aren’t exactly filled with selfies!
Need help finding cool role models for your girl? Look to organizations like Girl Scouts and others that support girls and women for inspiration.
Take a Look in the Mirror
Beyond having conversations with her about selfies, it’s also important to try to model self-love. Girls take a lot of cues from the adults in their lives, so it’s best not to complain about your own appearance or make critical comments about how other women and girls look. Not only is it not cool to tear yourself or anyone else down based on looks, but it also sets a dangerous example for your girl and makes her more likely to look for and find fault with her own features.
These kinds of conversations aren’t always easy, but think of them as special opportunities for you and your girl to get to understand each other better. She may not always seem to be listening, but the more time you spend with her, the more you try to learn from her, and the more you take her thoughts and concerns seriously, the closer you will become—and the more she’ll trust you when it comes to the truly important things in life.
Girls can do anything! Girls rule! The future is female! From T-shirts to water bottles to baseball caps, pro-girl slogans are everywhere these days—but as someone who cares about girls, you should know these catchy phrases aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.
Take the example of a company that won applause with a girl-power–themed commercial in the United States. Just months later, that same company released an ad in a country where women aren’t considered equal. This time, the slogan actually insulted women.
And as for those T-shirts emblazoned with the word “feminist” or proclaiming that “girls are unstoppable?” Often the factories that make them have women and sometimes even children working in unsafe conditions and earning far below fair pay.
Girls need more than strong words to be empowered.
“A lot of corporations and organizations that want to be seen as championing girls and women simply aren’t,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “It’s incredibly telling when someone says they support the development of young girls, but then you find women are virtually excluded from top leadership at that same organization. There’s still a whole lot of work to be done when it comes to giving women and girls equal footing in society. Organizations can say they’re pro-girl all day long, but unless they’re truly investing in girls and helping them get the specific skills and experiences they’ll need in the future, they’re not walking the walk.”
Similar to these empty promises are the people painting a picture of girls and boys, men and women as already being equal in today’s society—as though we’re in a post-gender world where girls no longer need extra or differently focused attention and enrichment. How wonderful it would be if that were true—but it’s not.
Although girls and young women are completing high school, college, and even graduate school in greater numbers than ever before—even earning more degrees than their male counterparts in many areas, the day-to-day reality for today’s girls is a lot more complicated than that. For instance, while girls are working harder and achieving more academically, they’re also struggling more with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even suicidal feelings. Statistically, they get called on less in class than boys, and one out of every ten girls is catcalled by her 11th birthday.
Oh, and once they do grow up and make it out of school? All those hard-earned diplomas aren’t adding up to more equal workspaces or better career opportunities. The pay gap is still very real, and the number of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies is negligible. The people who represent our country’s cities and states at the highest levels are overwhelmingly male. The majority of speaking roles in TV shows and movies are male. We have never, in our nation’s history, had a female president.
Naturally, giving your girl a shirt that says “Girls Run the World” is a lot easier than sitting down with her and actually talking about the inequalities that women and girls—including those of different backgrounds—struggle with. And who doesn’t want to think of their daughter as having equal opportunities to the boys and men in her life? But having these conversations with her, and letting her know you’re committed to helping shape a better world for her (and all of us!), will at least give her the comfort of knowing you’ve got her back.
So what can you do?
Getting to a place where girls truly do run the world isn’t going to happen overnight, and no magic spell or cute slogan on a tote bag is going to get us there. What will? Going beyond the talk to walk the walk, side-by-side with and for girls.
Picture a “tomboy.” Maybe she lives for her weekend softball games, climbing trees, hanging at the skate park, tinkering with the family car, and geeking out over Star Wars trivia. She’s not afraid of bugs or skinned knees, and tends to be happiest in comfy jeans and her favorite tee. But if she identifies as a girl, isn’t it strange that we’d label her as a “boy” of any kind, even lovingly?
“The term tomboy is used as a shortcut to describe a girl’s interests and is often even thought of as a compliment of sorts,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but when we label sporty, adventurous girls as boyish, we’re reinforcing the idea that certain behaviors or interests are better suited to boys and men, while the rest are for girls. That’s limiting to children of both genders and not good for anyone.”
Although we know girls can do and be anything they put their minds to, these types of stereotypes about activities and jobs that are seen as more masculine or feminine continue to pigeonhole boys and girls, men and women—all of us!
Kids pick up on these stereotypes early. In a 2018 survey conducted in partnership with the BBC, children ages four to eight were asked to identify jobs that could be done by men and jobs that could be done by women. When it came to being an aerospace engineer, more than half the kids said it was a career men could succeed in, whereas only 15 percent identified it as a field for women. And as for hairdressing? More than 70 percent said it’s a job for a woman, where only 12 percent saw it as a career for men. Both boys and girls are growing up believing that there are whole fields that aren’t for them.
The perception that certain jobs aren’t for women, or even that women would be in the minority in their field, is daunting if not entirely off-putting to girls. In a Girl Scouts Research Institute study, nearly three out of five girls said they’d have to work harder in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field than a man just to be taken seriously.
“The most effective way to broaden the possibilities a girl imagines for herself is for her to see women in leadership roles. She really needs to see it to be it,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Which is why having girls participate in all-girl, girl-led experiences—where every leadership role is filled by a girl or woman—is so crucial.”
What isn’t helpful? Labeling ambitious, adventurous, go-getters as “tomboys.” You might think it’s a term of endearment or that calling a little girl a tomboy won’t make any difference—after all, she’s just a kid and not thinking about these bigger issues of gender stereotypes, right? But the truth is, these gender labels can cause her to second guess her interests and what she opens herself up to in the near term—and what she sees as possible for herself in the future.
It’s time to stop calling girls tomboys and just let girls be girls—in all the wonderful, varied ways that’s possible.
When she was a baby or a toddler, chances are you had your daughter’s sleep routine down to a science. The parenting books are chockablock full of sleep guidance for new moms and dads—and since she was so little and didn’t have the schedule of an older kid, sleep could be a front-and-center priority without anything else getting in the way.
But now that she’s older, has homework, a full social calendar, and possibly even a part-time job, sleep might be getting deprioritized to the point that it’s hurting your girl. Did you know that kids between six and 12 need between nine and 12 hours of sleep? And that high school students need between eight and 10?
Did you also know that according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, high school girls get, on average, a full hour less sleep than their male counterparts each weeknight? The report didn't say why, but regardless of the reason, this is a big problem.
“Sleep is so important in terms of our emotional and physical health—just as important as the nutritious food we eat and the exercise we get,” says Girl Scouts developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “In fact, studies show that a lack of sleep can contribute to increased risk of drug use, obesity, and feelings of depression—all three of which have been indicated by the Girl Scout Research Institute as growing problems of this generation of girls.”
So we should all be concerned that girls are getting short-changed when it comes to sleep. If we want our girls to be happy and successful—which of course we do—we have to help them in this department. How can you do that, though? The first step is to determine whether there’s a problem that needs fixing in the first place.
Look for These Signs of Sleep Deprivation
Help Her Get More Sleep
Of course, these tips could lead to happier and healthier lives for all of us (sleep is good for everyone, obviously!)—but since the sleep deficit is so pronounced among girls, it’s important to focus on your daughter’s needs specifically. That said? It’ll be easier for her to adopt healthy sleep habits if your whole family is following suit. Leading by example in this case could have major benefits for everyone. Here’s to sweet dreams and bright, fully-rested mornings!
You knew this day would come, but you had no idea how soon. Now suddenly, the girl who’s never needed more than her family, her friends, and maybe the snuggles of a favorite pet is streaming sappy pop songs, wandering about with a silly grin on her face, and writing mysterious initials on her book covers/the back of her hand/any available surface.
It’s time to come to terms with reality: your daughter probably has a crush.
Now, crushes are called as such for a reason. As much as they can make a person feel happy, they can also leave one feeling rather dramatically destroyed by the world. So, as her parent, you’ll need to approach dealing with her first crush with caution; empathy; and, as always, love. Lots and lots of love! Here’s how you might navigate some trickier aspects of her first brush with puppy love.
The issue: You think she’s too young to be in love or dating.
Reality check: While it can be jarring to think of your girl having romantic feelings, remember that having a crush does not mean the same thing as dating or even being in love—even if she insists she feels that way. Crushes are often rooted in infatuation and go no further than a bit of daydreaming and doodling. Actual dating rarely comes with crushes. Plus, forbidding her to have a crush may only deepen her feelings—after all, so often when young people are told they can’t have or do something, they want to all the more.
Try this: If she’s been inking initials or someone’s name on everything in sight, take the time (when it’s just the two of you—you don’t want to embarrass her!) to ask who this special someone is and figure out why she likes them. And even if she says they’re “dating” or “going out,” there may not be any cause for alarm. Ask what those terms mean to her. To many young girls, dating or going out might just mean that they sit together at lunch—or perhaps that they like each other, everyone knows it, and they text! A little fact-finding can go a long way to soothe your nerves and open lines of communication. This way, when she does start dating in a more meaningful way in the years to come, she’ll already know she can trust and turn to you.
The issue: You don’t approve of the person she’s crushing on.
Reality check: Most crushes, especially at this age, are fleeting, so there’s almost no chance of this person being in her life for the long haul. But beyond that, you might want to take a step back and make sure you aren’t assuming things about her crush based on how they look, what part of town they live in, or something else that likely has nothing to do with why your daughter likes them.
Try this: Ask your girl what it is she likes or admires about this person. If she focuses on appearances first—spoiler alert, she probably thinks her crush has great hair—go deeper, and ask her if they’re kind to others or if they share any particular interests with her. This is a good opportunity for you to talk about what makes a person worthy of attention and admiration over some of the more superficial qualities she might be focused on. If there are more serious concerns about this person, like an inappropriate age difference, known behavioral problems, or something else, bring them up gently, and ask her how she feels about those things. Hearing her out and having a conversation with her (even if you know you’re eventually going to have to flat-out tell her this person isn’t worthy of her affections) will help her feel respected; heard; and, most of all, that you really care and aren’t just saying “no” to be mean.
The issue: Her crush doesn’t like her back.
Reality check: The sight of your daughter crying into her cereal bowl over some super awkward kid may seem ridiculous to you—not to mention a waste of her precious time and energy—but to her, this is anything but silly. Think back to your early crushes and how, even if they didn’t last long, it felt like the sun rose and set by that person’s existence in your life. Your daughter likely feels that way right now.
Try this: Instead of telling her to “get over it” or that her crush wasn’t so great anyway, find a quiet moment to ask her how she’s feeling, then actually listen. She’s been rejected by someone she really likes (even if you don’t think they’re great shakes!), and she’s probably hurting. Be there for her, and try to find things to do together that will brighten her day. Maybe you can plan some time to watch a favorite movie or schedule a night when her best girlfriends can come for a sleepover party. Over time, she’ll almost definitely start to feel better, and your bond will be stronger than ever.
No matter what your thoughts are on #MeToo or #TimesUp, many parents of young girls may think, “She’s still so young. Do I really need to talk to her about something so adult?”
With the topic spreading far beyond social media—including the recent Golden Globes broadcast, featuring powerful speeches given by women in entertainment, such as Oprah—the surrounding movement to stop sexual harassment, assault, and the overall unequal treatment of women, in general, may already be on your girl’s radar. While it’s up to each parent or family to do what’s right for their girl, the age she may need to know about these topics starts younger than most people think.
Why? The discrimination and abuse of girls start early, and it is likely to already be happening to your daughter or one of her friends. More than one in ten girls is catcalled before her 11th birthday, and more than one in six girls in elementary and secondary school deals with gender-based harassment. Beyond this being patently wrong and damaging to girls’ well-being, discrimination can also distance girls from activities and subjects in school, like math and science, where she feels unwelcome or worries she may not be able to compete. We can’t afford to be quiet about it any longer.
For far too long, the responsibility has been put on girls and women to stay out of harm’s way rather than on boys and men to not harm in the first place. Similarly, for far too long, girls and women have been told either to keep quiet about harassment and abuse so as to not cause a scene or alternatively, to speak out immediately in the face of sexual harassment, abuse, and general sexism—despite the effect that could have on their schooling, career, credibility, and future prospects. If and when they do speak out, they are often framed as too sensitive or making a big deal out of something minor, despite the damage the harassment is doing to her.
We owe our girls a world where they can speak up without fear of retribution and where their concerns are always taken seriously and given a careful hearing, and providing her with the tools and tips to advocate for herself are a powerful start. It’s also time for boys and men to take an active role in advocating for the worth of girls and women and to not only value and support their female peers but also call out abusive and sexist behaviors when they occur.
There’s no doubt that we still live in a society in which our daughters need to know (from a very young age) how to spot potentially dangerous situations, how to defend themselves if necessary, and how to speak up should they ever have the need. We need to help girls, and all of our children, realize their worth and find the confidence to use their voices not only to their own benefit but also to create a more just and safe world for all of us.
If you’re unsure how to broach the topic with your kids, consider asking them what they’ve heard about discrimination or harassment, if they’ve read about it on social media, or if it’s a topic of conversation with their school friends. Alternatively, many TV shows and movies provide examples of gender-based harassment, violence, or general discrimination and can act as a natural conversation starter. Ask your kids how they feel about what they saw, and let the discussion evolve from there.
When you talk to your daughter about gender discrimination, harassment, and related issues, emphasize:
In today’s “pics or it didn’t happen” culture, we’ve all gotten used to—and, let’s face it, kind of hooked on—that rush you feel from yet another like or favorite on social media. And while of course many people use Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to stay connected and share their daughters’ milestones with loved ones who live far away, these new technologies and the constant streams of praise we can get from them have largely made us into a generation of over-sharers.
From vacation snaps and outfits of the day to intimate family moments, many of us proudly post what used to be considered private moments for everyone to view, comment on, like, and share as they see fit. Some might consider it bragging, but much of this “showing off” often comes from good intentions—we’re proud of our lives, our accomplishments, and our families, and want to share the joy and beauty we see with others.
The problem is that once posted online, even to a “private” account only shared with family and friends, those photos and bits of information can be reposted, shared via screenshot, and otherwise disseminated to perfect strangers. As Kalinda Raina, cybersecurity expert and head of global privacy at LinkedIn puts it, “Whatever you do on your phone, on your tablet, whatever you say to your digital assistant or say near it while it’s waiting for you to give it a command—it all creates data, everything has a digital record these days.” In other words? There may be no such thing as actual digital privacy, even when you’re trying your best to keep the information you share limited to a certain group.
When many adults aren’t drawing a line between public and private, one can imagine how it could be hard for kids to understand that distinction, which can leave them vulnerable to predators and other problems online.
Additionally, the over-sharing trend complicates and confuses friendships and other social relationships, sometimes leading to more superficial connections and fewer close, meaningful ones—which isn’t great for anyone, let alone children, who rely on the strength of friendships as they grow.
So how do you get kids to understand the concept of privacy while they’re simultaneously being flooded with images and messaging telling them how to be “Instafamous” and earn more followers? Here are a few strategies you might want to try.
Start Early with Safety
Obviously your top priority is keeping your daughter healthy and safe, so you’ll want to drill this one home, starting from a very early age. Many parents delay talking to their children about digital safety until they’re older and more connected online, but it’s never too early to get this message across to your girl. Just as you teach your toddler not to talk to or go anywhere with a stranger, you should tell her the same rules apply on tablets, phones, and gaming consoles. If someone she doesn’t know in real life wants to talk to her or asks for information like where she lives and what grade she’s in, tell her not to reply and to let you know what’s going on. Similarly, posting any identifying information, like what school she goes to, what team she plays on, or where she’ll be hanging out on the weekend, should be discouraged. Her friends might be doing this, so it may be hard to convince her it’s not safe. Try putting it this way: her favorite celebrities probably don’t post where they are in real time, because they’d be mobbed by fans and other random people when they just want to be left alone. She may not have the paparazzi following her, but there are still bad people out there who might use information about her location to creep on her. Best to keep that information to just the people who need it—her real friends and family!
Work Up to Self-Worth and Thoughtful Posting
If you have a teen or tween who’s already on social media, ask about what the likes and comments mean to her. Does she feel good about herself when a post gets a lot of positive attention? What types of posts (hers or others) get more positive attention? Has she noticed a pattern? What about when a post seems to be ignored or gets negative comments? How does that affect her? It’s very normal to feel a rush of endorphins (brain chemicals that help us feel happy) when something we’ve posted gets the thumbs up from others, and the desire for that reaction can lead some people—including kids—to post things they’d otherwise keep private just to make others happy or to get the “likes.” Suggest that she starts asking herself why she’s posting something before she posts. Let her know that it’s a privilege for anyone to know her, and that not everyone deserves to know everything about her life. Her everyday moments (yes, even silly selfies at the ice cream shop!) are precious and personal. Does she think it’s important or helpful for others to see these images—will they brighten others’ days or give them something to think about, or is she posting in hopes of getting approval from the world? Why does she need others, including strangers, to like what she’s posted? Is it not enough that she likes it herself? Talk to your daughter early and often about this issue. You’re unlikely to get her to stop sharing about her life entirely—and there’s no need for that—but getting her to do some critical thinking here can make a big difference.
Rethink Your Own Social Rules
Saying one thing to your daughter and then doing another in your own life is likely to be noticed. If you want her to think seriously about her privacy online, it’s important for you to take a step back and look at how you use social platforms yourself. Even if your privacy settings are all at the maximum, there are ways for people to get your information and see everything you have online. Think not only about the information you share about yourself, but also what you share about your family, your children, and other people in your life. When you post about your daughter—either images or anecdotes—think about whether or not she’d want it shared. Could it be embarrassing or invade her privacy in a way? Are you posting it in support of her and her interests, or of your own? Not every parent shares the same ideas about what’s OK to post about their kids online and what’s not. Talk to the other moms and dads in your daughter’s group about their feelings, and be respectful of those who don’t want their kids’ pictures posted online. Similarly, if you don’t want others sharing photos of your girl from birthday parties or other events, be sure to make those wishes known in advance. Once posted, it’s hard, if not impossible, to entirely erase an image from the internet, so it’s always better to have privacy expectations understood ahead of time than to try to fix things after a misstep.
The new year is a time of beginnings and often big (often pretty unrealistic) goals. This year, try something different with these simple but effective parenting resolutions.
Across the states in our diverse country, the holidays are a time for family—but we know that not all military families are able to enjoy the festivities together. Being away from loved ones for family traditions and special events (or, anytime, honestly) is one of many sacrifices those in the armed services and their families make to serve our country, and it’s one that can be particularly tough for children to grapple with.
“It might seem like a good idea to pretend that everything’s going to be normal or to avoid telling your daughter that her parent will not be present for the holiday until the very last minute—but of course everything isn’t normal, and children often deal best with change if they’re given time to think about and process an upcoming event,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. Granted, there’s not always a lot of notice before deployment, but Dr. Bastiani Archibald suggests maximizing that time of adjustment for your girl by making her aware of a parent’s upcoming absence as soon as possible and talking about it regularly.
Be honest about the fact that one of you will be away for an extended period and that you won’t be able to be together to celebrate the holidays like you usually do. She might not understand what deployment is but might understand what a long trip for work means. “Focus on the good work her parent will be doing while away. Telling her that her mom or dad will be helping keep people safe or working to make people’s lives better will be more relatable to your daughter while also helping her understand the importance of this deployment, even during a time that’s so special to your family,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald.
Don’t shy away from discussing any worries or fears your daughter might have about her parent being deployed. She may be concerned that her mother or father will be hurt or not be able to return at all. Military.com advises addressing these concerns in an honest, age-appropriate way and offering reassurances while avoiding a promise that her parent will be absolutely fine.
Your daughter, especially if she’s younger, might still wonder why other kids get to celebrate with their whole family while she’s separated from someone she loves. In this case, you can explain that her parent has a special role in making the world a safer place and that sometimes means having to travel to faraway places even when they’d love to be home with her. Go ahead and acknowledge that it’s hard on you, too! Sometimes it can be useful to give more tangible examples to help younger children understand—just like a superhero she might know from a book or a movie, her mom or dad is making the world safer for everyone.
And come up with a game plan for when times get tough and your daughter could really use a hug from mom or dad who’s far away. “When my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, we got what we called ‘daddy blankets’ for the kids,” recalls Sara Holland, a former Army Major whose husband was also a member of the armed services. “We got blankets for the kids, and then their dad explained to them before he left that any time they felt lonely and missed their daddy, they could just wrap themselves up in [the blanket] and know he was thinking of them. It was a real comfort. Years later, when I prepared to deploy, we got fleece pillowcases embroidered with family nicknames so the kids would have ‘mommy pillows’ too.” The Holland family also bought matching sets of twin-sized sheets so their son and his dad could “match” across the miles. “All the dads in Afghanistan had sheet sets covered in their kids’ favorite action figure or unicorns or whatever the big thing was. It was comforting for kids to see that their mom or dad was sleeping on the same pillowcase every night that they were, and I think it gives those who are far away from home a sense of connection to their children as well.”
Even if you think your loved one might be home in time for the holidays (or on any specific date), promising when your girl’s loved one will be back might not be the best idea, because return dates can change depending on circumstances often outside a service member’s control. “Try to be relatively general about how long the parent will be away, and wait until a few days before the return—when you’re sure the date is unlikely to change—to let her know that her mother or father will be coming home,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. Young children can be literal, and otherwise, you run the risk of her feeling even more disappointed, confused, or even fearful if her parent is unable to return by a promised date.
Talk ahead of the departure about all the ways you will be able to keep in touch with the deployed parent and even celebrate the holidays long distance. Many families use Skype or other live video chat programs to keep close while separated, and in some situations—although definitely not all—it’s possible to set regular call times so parents and kids can connect. “Any kind of routine you can establish ahead of time, or early on in the deployment, will have a stabilizing and helpful effect on your child,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald.
As for specific tips to make the season a bit brighter for everyone when one of you is deployed, we’ve got a few of those, too.
And although it’s important to look after your child’s needs during a tricky time like having a family member deployed during the holidays, it’s equally important to make sure you’re also taking care of yourself. Taking on the parenting in your family that’s normally handled by two people can be stressful—especially at the holidays when you want everything to be as perfect as possible. You’ll be more capable of making the holiday joyful for your girl if you’re well-rested and aren’t putting too much pressure on yourself.
Imagine this: your girl didn’t make the cut for the team, or is having drama with a friend, or isn’t feeling well and has to miss a birthday party. Whatever the issue is, she’s upset, and you’re trying to console her when she lashes out with a tried-and-true clapback: “You don’t understand!”
And although you might think you understand—perhaps you even had a similar incident happen to you when you were her age—telling her that you know how she feels isn’t going to do much good and could actually just make her feel worse in the moment.
You may have gone through trials very much like those your girl is going through now, and you and your daughter might even be a lot alike. But no two people experience or react to life’s ups and downs in the same exact way. The simple fact that she’s her own person, regardless of how much the two of you share, means that only she knows how she feels. Plus, your girl is growing up in a drastically different time than you did (the world is so different now than it was even five years ago!), and all kinds of factors, from nearly constant social media connection to a more in-your-face news cycle can affect how your daughter views each situation she’s experiencing.
Of course you might have an idea of what she’s feeling, but that’s different from truly knowing how she feels, and the difference is actually pretty significant. “If your daughter is upset and trying to express herself, only to hear you say you already understand because you’ve been there, done that—she’s may feel that you’re not truly hearing what she has to say,” says Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist. “In such situations, it’s only human to try to relate to what someone else is going through, and it comes from the best of intentions. Saying you know how she feels is an attempt at empathizing and can even be thought of as a way to guide your daughter toward a solution that you think might work for her. Still, that can backfire and make your daughter think you’re minimizing her emotions or that you’re somehow making the situation about you, which isn’t helpful—especially at an age when she’s trying to cement her own identity and unfortunately might not love being compared to her parent or caregiver.”
So if she’s already gotten to the part where she says “You just don’t understand,” the best response is actually to say, “You’re right. I don’t know, and I’m sorry. I do know this stinks, though, and I want to hear more.” Then, in future situations, take the time to step back and listen to what she has to say rather than telling her you already get it. Try saying something like, “You seem angry/upset/sad, can you tell me more?” or even “I had a similar experience when I was a girl, but I know this is different. How can I help?” Then, give your daughter the space to explain how she’s dealing with the situation, what she thinks is important about it, and how she’s feeling about moving forward.
“Simply knowing she’s been heard and that you want to understand her life can provide comfort,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Not every situation has a quick fix, which can be frustrating to parents who want to help, but simply being there and making sure she gets to explain herself on her own terms without having her feelings likened to yours or dismissed can go a long way.”
Recovery from the effects of a natural disaster can involve rebuilding houses, schools, and whole communities. But it’s important for parents to realize that beyond the physical structures that need repair, a child’s sense of security and calm will likely need to be rebuilt, too. Paying attention to this sometimes “invisible” damage is just as vital to tend to as more obvious projects in the aftermath of a storm, fire, earthquake, or other disaster.
It’s absolutely normal for your daughter to feel anxious after an unpredictable event where she was either in direct danger or even simply felt threatened. It’s also absolutely normal for her to feel sad or even angry about the losses she may have experienced either during the disaster or immediately following it. When one thinks of losses in the scope of a catastrophe, they’re often limited to the big things like the destruction of a home or even the tragic death of a loved one, but it’s vital to note that other, seemingly smaller kinds of losses—a favorite book that got ruined, a teddy who got lost, or friends who she’s been separated from if she or her pals had to relocate—can also have a big effect on your girl and should be addressed with empathy and compassion.
“You may be doing fine and even think your girl is, too,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but because kids lack some of the coping tools adults have gained over the years, it may take children weeks or even months to regain a feeling of normalcy. If she sees you moving on as though everything is fine, and the topic isn’t brought up again, your daughter may feel embarrassed if she’s still struggling and feel like she should act as though everything is fine in her world, too. These feelings, if buried or ignored, can fester and lead to prolonged sleep disturbances, deeper feelings of anxiety or depression, and even episodes of acting out.”
So what can you do to guide her through this time of transition and help her regain solid footing? Follow these seven tips from Dr. Bastiani Archibald.
Even the strongest of people can have difficulty coming to terms with a devastating disaster. Resilience is a quality that’s built over time, but it’s only human to need a helping hand in times of uncertainty. Give your daughter—and yourself—time to heal.
Holidays and family get-togethers are a time for yummy food, sweet traditions, funny stories, and lots and lots of love. But they could, without you even realizing it, also be a time when your daughter gets the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.
Have you ever insisted, “Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!” or “Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,” when you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own? If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future.
Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older. Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.”
Give your girl the space to decide when and how she wants to show affection. Of course, many children may naturally want to hug and kiss family members, friends, and neighbors, and that’s lovely—but if your daughter is reticent, consider letting her choose what to do. Of course, this doesn’t give her license to be rude! There are many other ways to show appreciation, thankfulness, and love that don’t require physical contact. Saying how much she’s missed someone or thank you with a smile, a high-five, or even an air kiss are all ways she can express herself, and it’s important that she knows she gets to choose which feels most comfortable to her.
Envy. Jealousy. The green-eyed monster. However you shake it, your girl will naturally from time to time wish she could trade places with another girl to have the levels of success she’s experiencing. But before you dismiss your daughter’s desires, take a step back and realize that jealousy can often be channeled into ambition—pushing your girl to aim higher, work harder, and dream bigger.
“Of course some things, like another girl’s physical traits or the monetary wealth of her friend’s family don’t really translate this way,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but jealousy over successes—winning the school science fair or getting the solo in a dance performance can motivate your girl to try something new, develop a goal and work hard to attain it.” The important thing is to listen to your daughter and help her think through her feelings, where they come from, and what it would take for her to attain the kinds of achievements she craves.
So, the next time you notice your girl coveting another child’s trophy or feeling let down that she wasn’t named MVP of the weekend soccer match, follow these tips to help your girl rise above.
Help Her Get Perspective
Excelling in sports, science, or any other arena takes time and dedication. Is your daughter willing to put in the hours of practice necessary to improve and get to the next level? She might immediately think, “Yes!” but not realize that would mean putting another passion of hers on the back burner. For instance, your daughter might think she’d love to focus on gymnastics and start winning competitions, but would she be willing to spend less time with friends or even just relaxing on the weekends to make that happen?
“Everything has a trade-off,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “and focusing more on one thing will automatically mean scaling back on something else. She might decide in the end that she’s happier spreading her time across multiple interests rather than trying to specialize in one.” That said, she may decide that dedicating more time or resources to her goal is worthwhile—which will get her fired up to do the work necessary to make her dreams come true.
Encourage Her to Get Help
A little healthy competition can be a great thing in your daughter’s life, but you know what’s even better? Teaching her about the power of collaboration. If your daughter is determined to get better at a certain skill, suggest that she ask the girl who’s inspired her for pointers, or even ask if they could study or practice together. When your girl joins forces, she’ll likely learn a lot, gain or deepen a friendship, and see how they can rise up together. Additionally, she may want to get help from a teacher or an older sibling, or look for apps and websites that offer helpful tips and advice. Of course it’s possible to excel at something on your own, but it’s a whole lot easier when you’ve got support. Remind your girl that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign that she’s serious about improving and willing to do what it takes to make that happen!
Celebrate Her Talents
Some people are naturally better at some things than others, so no matter how hard your daughter tries, there’s a chance that she may never exactly match another child’s success—and that’s OK! “The girl on her soccer team with longer legs may be able to run faster than your daughter. That’s just physics.” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “But that doesn’t mean your daughter isn’t a valuable member of the team. Perhaps she’s excellent at passing the ball or is awesome at keeping morale up when things are tough out on the field. Let her know you see how hard she’s working and recognize her unique contributions.”
The last thing you’d want is for her to give up on a passion just because she didn’t get first place or get picked for a solo performance. Helping her see what she has to offer, and that some other kids might be jealous of her abilities can give her confidence and help her feel proud of her own accomplishments, even if they don’t exactly match those of her friends or classmates.
Although your daughter likely goes to school with boys, and might play Saturday morning sports and share the local playground with them, the realities of her day-to-day life are anything but the same as those of her male peers. In fact, studies show that in coed learning environments, boys receive more praise than girls when they call out in class, making girls less likely to raise their hands. Furthermore, boys are allowed to problem solve on their own during class time, which fosters independence, whereas teachers tend to step in and “help” girls, leading girls to question their own abilities.
And outside of school? More than one in ten U.S. girls report being catcalled before their 11th birthday—and a whopping 85 percent report gender-based street harassment before they turned 17. Not only does this make girls see their worth in terms of their appearance but it also makes them more self-conscious and cautious overall when out in public. Add to that the fact that the worlds of tech, advertising, major league sports, politics, finance, and so many other fields are still considered “boys’ clubs”—sending not-so-subtle signals to girls about which industries or activities are for girls and which aren’t—and the world starts looking a whole lot less equal for your daughter.
The fact is, 99 percent of your daughter’s life is experienced alongside boys, where she either has to fight for attention or dodge the unwanted kind. Not only can that get exhausting but it can also lead your daughter to keep her head down and stop seeking attention completely. And when this is her day-to-day norm, it’s easy for her believe dynamics like this are normal or acceptable. Scary, isn’t it?
So, what can you do to raise a smart, confident daughter who’s equipped to succeed in this world? Make sure she’s getting some high-quality time surrounded by girls and girls only.
Now, we know this concept raises some questions. Isn’t putting girls in an all-girl environment basically like telling them they can’t compete with boys or do the same things boys can? In short, no. Girls are already mixed in with boys in so many areas, but because of society’s stereotypes about girls and the ways girls are treated—either consciously or subconsciously—by the people in their lives, girls are less likely to take risks or engage in competition in environments where boys are present. They’re also more likely to shy away from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities and sports for fear of being seen as less than feminine, or because they’ve been conditioned to believe that boys will simply be better at those things.
All-girl environments—be they all-female sports teams, regular slumber parties, or even her Girl Scout troop meetings—work as a type of oasis in her world. When there are no boys to be compared to (or to compare herself to!), she can discover her passions, stretch her limits, and shine her absolute brightest without the social pressures of being seen as too girly, too masculine, or really too anything. Essentially, she’s allowed to be herself and learn her own strengths on her own terms. She can build the bravery, confidence, and resilience that come with taking risks, struggling, failing, and trying again. She can learn to innovate and problem solve without anyone assuming she can’t do it on her own. And she can carry these experiences and skills with her into the wider world, where they’ll bolster her and help her rise to new limits despite any barriers in her way.
And as for the theory that girls in all-girl environments just end up getting catty and tearing one another down? Quite simply, it’s wrong. Here’s the thing: the harmful stereotype of girls and women being backstabbing “mean girls” has existed for hundreds of years. But girls are more likely to be ultra-competitive with one another in environments where there’s only one or two spaces for them to take the lead. In all-girl environments? Every leadership opportunity in every area will be given to a girl, so girls learn to champion one another and collaborate rather than feel threatened. The friendships she’ll forge through these groups will form the basis of a powerful network of women who can support one another as they grow.
And these benefits—a greater sense of confidence, a higher comfort level with taking risks, the ability to claim every space as a space where girls and women belong, and the support and encouragement of a strong female network—truly will help your daughter throughout her life. Studies show that girls who take part in certain all-girl activities go on to have more successful careers, experience higher levels of education, and be happier in life in general.
What can you do to give your daughter the benefits of the girls’ club? Set up playdates with female schoolmates early and often. Point out examples in real life and in the media where girls have joined together to support and lift one another up. Get her involved in an all-female activity like Girl Scouts, an all-female dance or sports team, or a STEM class filled with girls. Invite the neighborhood girls or perhaps her female cousins over for regular slumber parties or weekend day trips, exploring your local area and the adventures it has to offer. Not only will she have fun and make memories to last a lifetime but she’ll also grow stronger, more capable, and more confident than you ever dreamed.
Raising a teen or tween can be trying at times, but there’s little that can feel more soul-crushing than thinking, "my teenage daughter hates me." This is the kind you’ve made every kind of sacrifice for, the one you’ve shaped your life around, the one you cherish more than you ever thought it was possible to love another human being. And this is what you get in return?
It might feel like the absolute worst, but before you flat-out decide you’ve failed as a parent (spoiler alert: you haven’t!), it’s worth noting that hearing your girl say she hates you can be a sign that you’re doing something right. “It’s easy to forget, but growing up isn’t exactly easy,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Your daughter is dealing with uneven social dynamics, changing hormones, and trying to make sense of who she is in our imperfect world. It’s only normal that she might feel annoyed or angry sometimes, as we all probably did at this stage of the game!” Add to that since adolescents are still developing on an emotional level, most of their feelings are of extreme variety. “Almost everything is black and white,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “They love things. They hate things. Teenagers have never exactly been known for their nuance or ability to temper their feelings.”
But why is all of this venom being directed at you, and how on earth is this a good thing, you might ask? “People often take out life’s frustrations on the people they feel safest with—the ones they know will stick with them and support them even if they do act out every now and then,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “And while friends at this age can be fickle, you’ve always been there for her—despite a disagreement or temper tantrum here and there. Whether she realizes it or not, she trusts that you won’t disappear on her if she lets some of this frustration out on you.” In other words, when she says she hates you, she’s also saying you’ve made her feel secure enough and have given her a safe space of sorts to release some of the pressure she’s been feeling.
So, yes. Even though it’s really crummy and painful to hear think your teenage daughter hates you, you should take it for what it most likely is—normal, and not entirely about you. Phew.
That said, her frustration probably is related to you on some level, so take a minute and think about why that could be. “When she was little, you were her whole world,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but adolescence is a time of big changes, experimentation, and branching out. It’s common to feel a little hurt by any distance your child is creating as she makes new friends and explores life’s possibilities, and it’s also common for parents to want to shield their children from making what they see as mistakes. Whether you mean it that way or not, this can come across as limiting or controlling to your child, and can lead to feelings of resentment as she tries to spread her wings.”
One thing that can help with this is to calmly (and with an open mind!) discuss conflicts with your daughter as they arise. Listen to her point of view and explain yours as well, rather than just saying, “no,” or “because I’m the parent.” Hearing her out, respecting her point of view, and being flexible when you can, will go a long way in calming what could otherwise be a heated situation.
“As much as you want to keep her from decisions she might regret later on, it’s actually important to let your girl make many of her own decisions, take some risks, and even make a few mistakes here and there,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. You might not like the band she’s spending all her allowance money to go see—and know she’ll be upset when she’s out of cash next week—or have mixed feelings about the haircut she wants to get, but those things won’t really matter in the long run. What will matter is that she feels heard, respected, and supported by her parents as she grows into her own person with her own interests, passions, and opinions.
“Keeping an open dialogue and letting her know that you really are considering her wants and needs will help you out a lot when it comes to issues that may put her health or safety at risk,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “It’s really a matter of choosing your battles. If you show flexibility and understanding when you can, she’ll be more likely to understand when you can’t, and understand that you’re not trying to punish her by setting certain rules.”
The bottom line is that even if your daughter says she hates you (and maybe she thinks at the moment that she does), what she’s probably really saying is that that growing up can be kind of rough. So take a deep breath, try to remember your own teen years, and remember that this, too, shall pass.
We’ve all seen the commercials of parents calmly and happily sitting around the perfectly-laid Thanksgiving table with their equally calm and happy children and extended family. The mashed potatoes are being passed from one end of the table to the other as guests laugh and reminisce. So sweet, so nostalgic, so unlike what goes on in most homes across the country!
Seriously, where’s the mom and her bandaged hand from trying to chop veggies before she’s had her morning coffee? Where’s the dad waiting in the most epic of lines at the bakery after the dog got into his homemade pie the night before? Also missing: the last minute scramble to make sure you have nut-free, vegetarian options so your favorite cousin has something to eat; dealing with your not-funny but won’t-stop-talking uncle; the tried-and-true family argument that just won’t go away; and oh, yes, the dishes. The piles and piles of dishes.
Truth? Thanksgiving should be a time to take a (probably much needed!) pause to celebrate all the wonderful things in our lives, and to teach our children the value of thankfulness. But who has time to really reflect when you’re too busy cooking and cleaning to even sit down and eat with the family?
“It sounds cliché, but Thanksgiving, at its core, is all about focusing on life’s riches—our loved ones, our time together, our health,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “But in this age of Instagram and foodie culture, it’s easy to get carried away trying to make everything look ‘perfect’ instead of creating a relaxing time to share stories, memories and your own family traditions with the people who matter most.”
So how can you and your family get back to the real meaning of Thanksgiving? Borrow these simple ideas from Dr. Bastiani Archibald and get ready to have one of your happiest holidays yet.
The point is to take a deep breath and really be present with the friends, family, and neighbors you’re lucky enough to have around you this Thanksgiving. Because think about it: It’s not the flavor of the turkey or the texture of the mashed potatoes your children will remember nostalgically in years to come—it’s the quality time they spent with you, sustaining family traditions and making new memories all holiday long.
Chances are, your daughter is way more up on the trends than you are—who can keep up, right? But when it comes to certain trends, like those that could affect your daughter and her well-being, you truly can’t afford to let yourself fall behind.
Yes, there are plenty of solidly great trends going on with girls today—their high school graduation rates are up, they’re volunteering more, and are less likely to smoke or drink alcohol than girls even just a few years ago. Still, the Girl Scout Research Institute has found plenty of troubling trends that you might not know about. For instance, feelings of low self-worth, obesity, and recreational use of marijuana are on the rise among American girls. Although none of these are things we’d like to think of our own daughters grappling with, it’s easy to imagine why so many girls in this high-pressure world are struggling—and why they might feel they don’t measure up and turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms in an attempt to deal.
You might be reading this and thinking, “Not my girl!” and if that’s the case? Wonderful. We want to help you keep it that way. Here are seven simple things you can do to help keep your daughter from falling prey to any of these three unfortunate trends:
Everybody’s buzzing about Sarahah, the latest of many anonymous apps to score big with teens, but this kind of digital platform (and the problems that can spring from it) are anything but new. For years, apps like Whisper, ask.fm, and the now-defunct Yik Yak have allowed users to solicit anonymous comments from others on anything they might ask. The questions teens pose on these apps for friends and strangers to answer range from “Do you think I’m pretty?” to some that are, well, a bit more scandalous in tone. As one might expect when young people feel they’re free to say whatever they want without consequence— bullying, oversharing personal information, and loads of general drama have been close to follow wherever these apps pop up.
And although you as a parent should of course always be on high alert for bullying and other kinds of aggressive behavior that might affect your daughter, there are other equally damaging dangers these apps pose that you might not have thought about.
One of the main benefits of using Sarahah, according to its official website, is that you can “let your friends be honest with you.” At first glance, that seems like a good thing, right? We all like honesty, and actually expect it from our friends. But when you pause to think about it, the statement implies that without this app, your friends aren’t being honest with you and likely never will be honest to your face. That’s not just sad, it’s downright concerning.
“There’s data that shows kids growing up with cell phones—and the texting and messaging apps that go along with them—are having fewer face-to-face interactions with their peers than previous generations,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “That means many of them are already trailing behind where they should be in terms of developing healthy, open, and direct communication skills. Anonymous apps that tout themselves as a place for honesty are actually adding to the problem. They’re breeding distrust among this generation and causing girls to second-guess themselves. If you think about it, there’s nothing honest about having to hide behind a mask or fake username to say how you really feel.”
All of us, of course, want to raise kids who are confident and brave enough to stand up for themselves and say how they feel without hiding behind a cloak of anonymity. We also hope they’ll be compassionate enough to not say purposefully mean or insulting things, regardless of the situation. But when given the option of being anonymous, it can be all too tempting for young people to let shyness (or, in bad cases, misplaced relational aggression) take over.
So what can you do to help combat the effect of Sarahah and other apps like it—and to foster the skills of truly honest and open communication? Follow these tips from Dr. Bastiani Archibald:
True fact: Your daughter’s nightmares may turn into your own worst nightmares. Why? Because poor or inadequate sleep has been linked to childhood obesity, lower test scores, and even bouts of depression and anxiety. None of which you ever want your girl to have to deal with.
“Even if you do your best to prevent bad dreams, it’s pretty impossible to avoid them entirely,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “But dealing with them in the right way can help keep them at bay and make bedtime a whole lot calmer for everyone.”
Follow these five simple tips from Dr. Bastiani Archibald to help turn your little one’s dreams from scary to sweet:
And once you’ve kissed one bout of nightmares goodbye, you’ll want to do what you can to keep her nights boogie-man free. Here are a few everyday things you can do to help with that:
Although raising a child who has special needs presents unique challenges for parents, the child’s sisters (and brothers) also face a unique set of challenges—and opportunities.
Whether these siblings thrive depends on their circumstances, their personalities, and a host of other factors. But parents can take action to give their typically developing children the support they need to make the most of their situations.
Girls already feel pressure to live up to many unrealistic standards, but when a sibling with special needs is present, girls may more strongly feel the need to overperform, to be the mythical “perfect child,” and to be extra helpful—all because they don’t want to add another burden to their already overworked parents’ lives. Or girls may act out, engage in risky or disrespectful behavior, or perform poorly in school to get some “special attention” of their own.
Guilt, resentment, confusion, embarrassment, and fear—they can all rear their ugly heads at school, in social situations, and at home. Helping your girl navigate those feelings, often compounded by other age-related issues, is important.
But there’s good news! Having a sibling with special needs can also give girls some distinct advantages. Reports indicate that the siblings of children with special needs are often more mature, more empathetic, more accepting of people who are “different,” and better able to cope with life’s challenges than their peers.
What’s more, the bond between these siblings is often stronger, and stays that way throughout their lives, because of the solid foundation they build when young.
To support your girl, here are a few things to keep in mind:
“It’s natural for parents and caregivers to pay extra time and attention to the child who has special needs,” explains Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Girl Scouts of the USA’s resident developmental psychologist. “But it’s also important to let typically developing kids know that their needs are also a top priority and to take steps to make every child feel valued and loved.”
Above all, do your best to stay positive about yourself and your parenting. Parenting is tough enough, and we’re all doing the best we can. The pressures of having a child with special needs can make caregiving even harder. But your ability to both handle the challenges and celebrate the bright spots will serve as a model to everyone.
It’s finally here—weeks upon weeks of gorgeous weather, lazier mornings, maybe a part-time job, pool parties, and ideally, buckets of free time. Summer is a magical time of year, and it would be an absolute waste to just sleep through it, so we’ve put together the ultimate summer bucket list that will make these warm weather months even more memorable (and give every girl something incredible to tell her friends about when she goes back to class in the fall).
All of these summer ideas work for both independent older girls, who can take on most challenges on their own—and for younger girls who can try their hand at these activities with the help of a parent or other caring adult.
Ready for your best summer yet? Let’s go!
Create Something Beautiful
Take your Instagram to the next level with some artsy shots, create a cool collage from your favorite magazines, or even try your hand at painting. The way you see the world is unique and cool, so share that vision with the world!
Sleep Under the Stars
No campground or plans to go camping on the horizon? Set up a tent in your own back yard. No back yard? Cut out paper stars and hang them from your living room ceiling with string and tape, then invite your crew over for an indoors campout. And don’t forget the S’Mores—they’re delish whether they’re made over a roaring campfire or in the microwave!
Do Something Scary
Test your skills on a ropes course, audition for a play, or try learning a cool skateboarding trick. There’s no need to be perfect—or even good—at whatever it is, the point is to just put yourself out there, try something new, and walk away with a cool story to tell your friends.
Daydream Under a Tree
Sure, the A/C inside feels good, but so does a nice summer breeze under the shade of a big tree. Take your headphones off, put your phone away, and let the birds serenade you as you dream up even more fun plans for you and your crew.
Make a New Friend
Chances are, you already know almost everyone in your neighborhood, so introduce yourself to a girl from a different community—maybe a girl at camp, at the pool in the next town over, or even get to know a friend’s cousin when she visits from out of town. New perspectives and ideas will make your summer a lot more interesting.
Get Lost in a Book
You always hear that the book is better than the movie, and nine times out of ten that’s true—but when school’s in and there’s so much assigned reading, it’s hard to find time to read anything else! Not sure where to start? Head to your local library. The staff there know all the latest and coolest in young adult titles as well as children’s books. Tell them what kinds of things you typically like, and they’ll deliver some solid suggestions.
Take a Hike
Whether you’ve got a rustic trail nearby or are in the middle of the concrete jungle, lace up your sneakers and check out all the snap-worthy sights. Bonus points? Pack a lunch and find a bench or shady park to have a mini-picnic.
Make a Family Tree
All families look different, and half the fun of creating a family tree is discovering what shape yours will take! Start with you and your siblings if you have any, then branch out to your parents or caregivers and their brothers and sisters, then to their parents and caregivers, and on and on as far as you can go. Dive deep and add some personal details to your tree, like photos, fun facts, and favorite memories. You’ll get to spend some prime quality time with the people you love the most, and might uncover a surprising or funny story or two along the way.
Be a Hero
Standing up for something you believe in doesn’t just help change the world, it feels really awesome, too. Learn more about organizations that support the causes you believe in, then volunteer, join a rally, or call your local government and speak up for the issues that matter to you. This is your world, and you can change it.
Learn how to make one delicious meal—something that you love and that will totally impress your family and friends. Ask a relative to teach you their favorite recipe, hunt through cool cookbooks at the library, or just do a quick online search for simple and yummy ideas. Throw a bright table cloth on a picnic table at the park and dig in. Top Chef’s got nothing on you.
Send an Old-School Letter
Get yourself some cute stationary (or make your own) and write a letter to one of your besties or a relative you don’t get to see too often—then think of how psyched they’ll be to find your note in among the junk mail.
If you think volunteering is boring, you’re doing it wrong. To give back (and have an amazing time, too) think about the things you like doing most. Chances are, those skills and activities could be turned into a cool community service project. Love singing or acting? Put on a show at the senior center or to raise money for your favorite cause. Obsessed with cute cat videos online? Sign up to help at the local animal shelter. Coding’s your thing? Help a younger girl (or, heck, even one of your parents!) learn how to set up her own website. Basically, you’ve got skills for days and the world needs them now.
Master One “Magic” Trick
This one might seem silly, but trust us on this one—knowing how to pull off one good trick will add a bit of fun to parties and other random hangouts for the rest of your life! Go online and research one simple card trick or other fun illusion. Practice it over and over until you can do it seamlessly, then test it out on family and friends. Presto! You’re ready for the spotlight.
Put Together a Cool Vision Board
Grab a bunch of old magazines and cut out words and pictures that represent the types of things you want to do or have in your life in the future. Include anything that inspires you—whether it’s fireworks in the night sky, cool pictures of hiking trails you’d love to explore, an adorable kitty, or portraits of athletes you look up to—then use tape, rubber cement, or a glue stick to attach them in any order you like on a poster board or piece of construction paper. Hang it in your room to motivate you and remind you of all the fun your future holds.
Make a Splash
Head to the beach, the lake, or the local pool to show off your backstroke, or even just dash out to the front yard or the driveway for an impromptu water balloon fight. On a hot day, there’s not much that feels better or that’s more fun.
Explore the Farmer’s Market
Check out your local farmer’s market with a friend and pick out a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. Don’t like it? There’s no need to have it again. Love it? As foodies would say, you’ve just widened your palate. Basically, the world is delicious. Get out there and take a bite!
Earn Some Cash
Although some of the best things in life are, in fact, free—other good things (like, say, ice cream and trips to the movies) cost money. Get down to business and make some cash of your own with a simple lemonade stand or bake sale, through babysitting or dog walking, by mowing lawns, or even teaching an elderly neighbor how to use her new tablet. You’re a natural entrepreneur!
Learn a Language
Set aside a couple hours each week and learn the basics of another language—either the one spoken in the part of the world you’d like to visit most, or one that you’re simply interested in, like American Sign Language. Check out free apps, online videos, and your local library for books and other resources. You’ll impress friends when you show off your new skills and will be able to communicate with so many more interesting and cool people throughout your life.
Check Out Some Live Music
You don’t have to have tickets to that sold-out stadium show to hear some awesome music this summer. Chances are, your town or one nearby will feature live bands during community barbeques, fireworks, and other local events. So head out, discover some cool new music, and maybe even get inspired to start your own band while you’re at it.
Keep a Journal
You’ll want to remember all the epic fun you’ll have this summer for the rest of your life— so jot down your memories, funniest moments, inside jokes, random thoughts, and most exciting adventures in a journal each night before you go to bed. If you’re on social, you might post some of this there, too, but there’s something really special about a journal that’s just for you that you can keep and cherish forever. Not so into handwriting things? Make a video or audio journal instead, or think about creating a visual scrapbook and fill it with ticket stubs and other mini-souvenirs of your summer.
Between making that deadline for work, running household errands, and simply trying to keep up with family and friends, life can be stressful. Add in the news of the world—hello, global pandemic—and it can feel downright overwhelming.
And it’s not just grownups who are feeling on edge. According to reports, up to one in five children and teens experiences anxiety, panic, or another closely related feeling.
Part of this could be that kids take their emotional cues from the adults in their lives (and if we’re stressed, they notice and think they should probably be stressed, too!). But part of it undoubtedly has to do with the fact that the world is an uncertain place, and as much as we may try to guard our children from the news, it’s both impossible and impractical to protect them entirely from many of the difficult, confusing, and sometimes simply upsetting conversations and events happening around us. And as older children start to learn more, it’s only natural for them to feel confused or stressed. We live in very complicated times!
So, what can we do about all this anxiety and stress? While we can’t snap our fingers and complete your weekly to-do list, let alone bring harmony and perfect health to the world, we can offer up some solid strategies for finding calm amidst what can feel like chaos. Consider this your go-to toolkit for when things seem a little out of control. The tips work for both kids and adults, so consider modeling them for younger kids and/or practicing them as a family when it makes sense. An extra dose of quality time can be calming for everyone, right?
Of course, if you or your daughter are dealing with ongoing or major anxiety, depression, or generally upset feelings, there are people in your community who can help. Not sure who to turn to? Reach out to your primary health care provider for local resources.
Ideally, we’d all hope our children would feel comfortable sharing absolutely anything with us—no matter how big or small—but as we were all young once, we know some situations might be easier to talk to parents about than others. That said, real-life tragedies in our communities—and those on shows like "13 Reasons Why"—really hit home and remind us that some of the hardest things to talk about are actually the most important.
While the Netflix hit show has everyone talking about teen suicide and assault, we also need to be talking more about how to improve communication between teens and the adults who can actually help them. We’re sure you’ve always told your daughter to come to you if she’s facing issues like bullying, inappropriate comments about her body, self-harm, or substance abuse—but there are still a host of reasons why she might be reticent to turn to you for help. Check them out below, and learn how you can help bridge the gap.
She might be your mini me—but that doesn’t mean your girl’s personality or social style will mimic yours. While you live for big parties, hosting family gatherings, and spur-of-the-moment get-togethers, she might be way happier flying solo or chatting with her one good friend.
Or maybe the situation is reversed. Perhaps your girl has the whole class on speed dial, while you get hives thinking about even making small talk with the other parents and caregivers at the PTA meeting.
Before you launch into must-fix-it mode or get your tissue-paper party garland in a twist, do a little recon. Ask yourself (and her teachers, if needed) if your girl’s social skills are developing normally. If so, then you’re simply dealing with a personality type that’s different from yours—and that’s OK. There’s no one right way to be, in fact, many people are outgoing in one situation but shy in another. Here are a few ways you can support her social style, whatever it may be.
You = Party Animal. She = Not So Much.
The real danger in this dynamic? Trying to push your girl to be more social than she feels comfortable with. In this “pics or it didn’t happen” and FOMO (the ever-dreaded fear of missing out) culture, your girl may already be feeling undue pressure to put herself out there and be in the center of things when she’d rather be off to the side reading a book.
Add to that the fact that some people may think of their child’s popularity as a reflection of their own success as a parent. Instead of falling into this mindset, try to understand why she prefers her quiet time—maybe she feels anxious or overwhelmed in group settings, finds being social tiring, or just doesn’t have much in common with the groups available to her. Or maybe she’s simply very thoughtful and likes quiet time to reflect and think about the world around her. At any rate, there’s nothing wrong with her wanting a life out of the spotlight.
So how can you help your girl thrive? First off, don’t get mad or disappointed if she reacts to social situations differently than you might. That will only lead to her feeling like you don’t love her for who she is, which couldn’t be further from the truth! Although some might misunderstand her social style as rudeness, it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone is a natural “joiner,” and that’s perfectly fine. If she seems to have difficulty introducing herself or feels anxious when others approach her in group settings, work with her to find polite ways to handle these situations that stay true to her personality.
On the flip side, resist the urge to label her an introvert, because labels of any kind can be limiting to children and teens who are still learning who they are and testing out different ways of being and/or are more social with some groups of friends or family than others. Instead, appreciate the strengths of her social style, and see if you can learn a thing or two from her way of life. Maybe an hour at home with a good book could help you recharge, too!
If you want to encourage your girl to be more comfortable with groups, instead of signing her up for team sports, which can be overwhelming, have her try something more individually focused, like track or martial arts. And embrace the friends she does have—get to know them, and make sure your girl knows you care about the people she’s welcomed into her circle.
When she does need to attend a bigger group activity, like a family gathering or wedding, help her come up with a game plan ahead of time to make it less overwhelming. Maybe it would help her to go outside for a minute alone if she needs a little break or to focus on talking with one or two people rather than feeling pressure to chat up the whole room. Strategies that can help her feel more at ease in a group will be useful throughout her life.
You = Quiet Caterpillar. She = Social Butterfly.
Having a girl who’s at the top of every RSVP list can be a bit of a challenge for more reserved parents and caregivers. Maybe you had just one or two close friends growing up and stuck to their sides through thick and thin. It’s only natural that if you cherish those kinds of relationships, you’d hope your girl develops bonds similar to yours. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong or less valuable about your girl taking more of a Pokémon approach to friendship (gotta collect ‘em all!) and splitting her time between many different groups. Stereotypes about popular kids being shallow are just that—stereotypes. When it comes to your girl and friendship, the more the merrier.
That said, supporting her outgoing ways can be a challenge if you feel overwhelmed by bigger social gatherings or anxious meeting new people. Believe it or not, if you’re feeling nervous about having to be social with the parents and caregivers of your girl’s friends, chances are at least one of them feels the same way you do! While the other adults probably want to get to know who you are on some level, that doesn’t mean you have to suddenly become close friends with them. Her friends’ parents do not have to become your besties!
Create opportunities for her to interact with other kids by signing her up for classes, playgroups, team sports, or play dates where you don’t need to take a host or supervisor role. It allows her the social stimulus she craves while also giving you time to yourself. Taking a pause for your own needs (yes, quiet time counts) isn’t selfish, in fact, it can help keep you focused, refreshed, and happy—all things you need as a caregiver! And as for the times when you’ll need to be a bigger part of the action—like hosting her birthday party or helping out with a class trip? Thinking ahead of time of topics you might discuss with other parents can reduce anxiety in the moment—plus, seeing how happy your girl is will make it all worthwhile. Who knows, you just might even have fun yourself!
But where can you find common ground? Quiet activities that the two of you can bond over, like reading books together, going for a bike ride, or working on a jigsaw puzzle, give you ways to spend high-quality time with your girl without stretching you to your limits.
The most important thing to remember? Accept each other, and work to understand what makes your girl tick. Awareness and education about your girl’s personality type (and your own!) will help her feel comfortable and confident in her own skin.
Whether it’s her coach, teacher, the local librarian, or her best friend’s mom, it’s easy to feel a little unsure or even threatened when your daughter starts looking up to, taking advice from, or confiding in another grown-up in her life. As her parent, aren't you the one who should be mothering her this way? Or what if you’re at work when she gets home from school each day, and you’re worried much of the parenting you’d hoped to be doing is being handled by her babysitter or daycare providers?
Before you get yourself totally whipped into a frenzy—stop! “There’s this enormous pressure that parents, especially mothers, feel to be all things to their children,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “But this is a case where it takes a village! Having several trusted, caring adults to look to for guidance, inspiration, and support as they grow up is a huge benefit to kids.”
In fact, studies show adolescents who receive warmth and acceptance from outside adults in addition to the love and care they get from their parents typically have higher self-esteem and fewer depressive symptoms. Dr. Bastiani Archibald explains one reason why this makes sense: “As they get a little older, kids can start assuming their parents are giving them compliments or praise because they ‘have to,’ or because they’re biased. When they hear these things from other adults—those who they see as having no obligation to say nice things or cheer them on—it can be incredibly reassuring.” Additionally, there might be issues that arise during adolescence that your daughter doesn’t feel as comfortable asking you about—so having a trusted adult or two around whose values match your own, and who she would be likely to turn to, is really important. And if you get to know these other adults—and let them know you see how much thought and energy they’re giving to your child—they’re more likely to urge your daughter to share information with you in times of crisis or potential danger so you can help her through it.
Another wonderful benefit of having a real network of interested, caring adults around your girl is that it’ll give her that many more examples of opportunities available to her, and of ways of living her life. “Of course, as her parent, you want her to know that she can be or do anything she dreams of,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “and having a diverse group of role models in her life will make that even clearer. After all, if she can see it, she’s a lot more likely to think she can be it!”
The bottom line is that although of course, your girl needs you—you’re her parent, after all!—there’s no need to try to be her everything. Instead of being intimidated by other people she admires, learn more about them yourself, and be thankful for the added joy, fun, and wisdom they’re bringing to your daughter’s world.
Helping a child through a separation or divorce when you still might be grappling with your own loss can be tricky at the best of times. And during the holidays, a time when you may have many warm memories of celebrating as a unit, it can be difficult and even painful to think about how to navigate this new territory.
“Holidays from every tradition have a real family focus,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “So it’s vital to show your daughter that her family remains there for her—that you are still a family, and that you all love her, even if you live in separate homes now.” Follow these tips and you’ll all likely have a happier holiday than you imagined.
Don’t Make Her Choose
Do you and your ex get along? Consider still celebrating the biggest family holiday traditions together so you can all join in the fun. But if that simply doesn’t make sense for you and your family, resist the urge to ask your girl what she’d prefer to do. It’s wonderful to let her take the lead in many situations, but know that asking your child to decide who she would rather spend the holidays with puts her in a sticky situation. If she chooses Mom, that could be seen as a slight against Dad and vice versa. If possible and practical, set your differences aside and talk to your former spouse to divvy up important holiday moments (perhaps you alternate nights lighting the Hanukkah candles or determine which specific activities are best spent with which parent).
Put Her First
Of course, you might feel anxious or apprehensive about spending the festive season without your loved ones—especially your children—but you can (and will!) get through this. If you find yourself arguing over who your girl should spend a pivotal holiday moment with, take a step back and think about what’s really going on. Are you mainly upset because you want to be with your girl and can’t quite stomach the idea of being on your own, or is this truly about your daughter and what will be best for her? Plus, remember that you can celebrate holidays beyond the actual days. If you've decided that an entire holiday is to be spent with one parent, then your girl can enjoy a new tradition or activity with the other parent perhaps the week before or after.
Help Her Show the Love
You may not feel like giving your former partner a nice gift this year—and no one says you should—but it’s likely (and good!) that your girl will still want to have a present to give to their other parent. Given the situation, she might feel awkward asking for your help in shopping for or making a gift, so make it easy on your daughter and suggest a trip to the mall or a crafting afternoon for expressly that purpose. Before she even wonders about it, let her know that you understand her dad/mom is on “her list” encourage/support it as “that’s what families do” this doesn’t change (reinforces family) Remember, this isn’t about you. It’s about the wellbeing and happiness of your daughter, and you don’t want her feeling guilty or sad over not having something to offer to her loved ones.
Be a Good Sport
Let’s be honest: Hearing all about how great it was to make holiday cookies with your ex, or about the gifts she got from her other parent might feel like nails on a chalk board. But again, take a step back and recognize that your girl is happy (never a bad thing) and that this is not a competition. You love her and want her to be loved and celebrated by all the important people in her life—even if your relationship with one of those people has changed drastically. Never, ever criticize an activity or gift initiated by your former partner in front of your girl, and instead, try to show interest and support of the fun she’s having.
Stick to Simple Presents
It’s been a hard year for everyone, so it might be tempting to lavish gifts on your girl as a sort of make-good, or as a way to cheer her up or to thank her for being so supportive and understanding during your family’s transition. That said? Material things can’t fix a broken heart, but time and love can. If finances allow, stick to the same level of gifts you would normally give your girl—there’s no need or reason to go overboard and so often kids see through this. And if there’s a bigger present that you and your ex might typically gift her from the two of you? Have a conversation about going in together to buy it for her and have it be from the two of you. It’ll send her a message that just because you’re no longer a couple doesn’t mean you’re no longer her parents. In fact, quite the opposite.
Overall, try to remember that no one “owns” the holidays, and that there’s enough fun to be shared by everyone. Successfully getting through a holiday or really any special occasion when separated or divorced can reinforce to your daughter that family is still family—near or far.
The air is getting colder, jingle bells are…jingling, and everything’s supposed to be merry and bright…right? Well, this year has been anything but normal and there's a decent chance your girl is feeling a bit “grinchy” and hiding a scowl under her new mask. But instead of letting your daughter’s mood put a damper on the holiday, get to the bottom of the problem so her holiday (and yours!) can be a whole lot happier.
The Problem: School Stress
Many schools schedule finals or big exams right after winter break, and your girl could feel torn between enjoying her time off and prepping for these important tests. Prioritizing is hard! Adding to that pressure for older girls, the final deadline for some college applications is just around the corner. Plus, with lines blurred between school life and home life, it can seem like there's no release valve or safe-space for her to fully unwind.
The Fix: Make a Plan of Action
It’s tempting to ignore the clock and let loose over holiday break, but when your girl has a big deadline coming up, it’s important to build in time for her to study or complete a project. Help her map out what she needs to accomplish by the time classes start back up again, and then spread it out over the days she has off so she can both celebrate the joys of the season and make sure she makes the grade. Additionally, try to limit her school working to a certain area of your home so that she can have a bit of separation between her academic responsibilities and the rest of her life.
The Problem: Your Elf is Exhausted
This year has been...a lot. Navigating a new reality and trying to keep spirits bright at the same time can be flat-out exhausting.
The Fix: Bring Back Bedtime and Breakfast
Sticking to a fixed bedtime (or at least not straying too far from it) will help your girl stay energized and more upbeat. And short naps can help, too.. Admit it—you could use an extra hour or two of sleep, too! Balance the random (and probably inevitable) sugar cookie or candy treat by starting days off energizing with something healthy and filling with whole grains and protein. Instant oatmeal or a piece of toast with nut butter are quick to prepare, and can make all the difference in her day.
The Problem: She’s Got the Gimmies
Focusing on gifts, and who gets what and how much, can get out of hand around the holidays. And with stores marketing “perfect gifts,” constant toy commercials on TV, and catalogs shipped to your door almost non-stop, even the sweetest of girls can get a greedy streak now and then or feel jealous of someone who has more than she does.
The Fix: Give Priceless Presents
Take the focus away from material objects and help your girl reconnect with the most valuable things we can gift to each other—our time, our energy, and our thoughtfulness. Give her an opportunity to give to others in your community by donating to a soup kitchen or food bank, or paying a special, socially-distanced holiday visit to the neighbor down the street whose partner passed away this year and might want a bit of company. She’ll feel good about what she’s doing to help others and will develop a new appreciation for all the riches she has in her own life.
The Problem: The Magic is Missing
As your girl gets older, she might start to feel that Santa and other holiday hallmarks are for little kids—and not so much for her.
The Fix: Give Her North Pole Power
Show her that the spirit of the season is for everyone by getting her in on the action. Giving her new and important responsibilities as a Santa’s helper—by decorating the house or even wrapping gifts—will show her just how valuable she is to your family’s holiday tradition. Want to take it a step further? Check out Operation Santa, a program run by the U.S. Postal Service, in which everyday people can help Santa fulfill the wishes of kids who might not have much this season. You can read through children’s wishes together and help gifts get to families who need them most.
You know your girl can be—and accomplish—anything she sets her mind to. So when choosing a holiday gift for her, don’t limit yourself to traditional “girly” presents and toys or even what’s specifically on her list. Gift giving is a great opportunity to open her up to new ideas, interests and experiences she’s not yet even aware of. There’s a whole world of fun out there for your daughter, and not all of it comes in a shade of pink.
If she loves dressing up, find fun and creative costume sets that will help her dress up as a superhero, doctor, or fire fighter. Princesses are fun, too, but having options and switching it up will boost her imagination and remind her of all the possibilities open to her.
If she loves movies and cartoons, look into stop motion animation sets. Several brands are making kid-friendly options that will help her create and direct her first feature. Who knows—by next year, she might have an Oscar nomination!
If she loves being outside, give her a pair of cute new hiking boots, a water bottle or canteen, and a map of local trails. The two of you can spend your holiday break planning which treks you’d like to take next.
If she loves watching sports, help her make the team herself. An over-the door basketball hoop (or one for the yard), a street hockey set, or new soccer gear are all great gifts with staying power. Regular time spent with you to practice? Icing on the cake.
If she loves stargazing or is into horoscopes, encourage her to learn about the stars that surround us with a telescope. You can get a fairly simple one or go fancy—it’s up to you—but no matter what, she’ll have fun learning more about the constellations, planets, and real science behind our universe.
If she’s always on the go, make sure she has what it takes to get herself out of a bind with either a bike repair kit or, if she’s of driving age, a roadside emergency kit. Then help her learn how to tune up her bike or jumpstart her car.
If she loves playing with makeup, pick up a DIY lip balm kit. She’ll pick up a few STEM skills while learning how to make one of her favorite products, and maybe even show a new interest in chemistry.
If she loves to sing or listen to music, help her make her own tunes with kid-friendly keyboard or guitar. If you’re musical, teach her how to play—and if you’re not, it’s easy to find simple lessons online.
If she loves video games, challenge her to create her own! There are a few different make-your-own video game kits in stores, and there are also plenty of books that can help her learn to make one on her home computer.
Helping your girl develop new passions by showing her the amazing range of opportunities in our world is perhaps the most valuable gift you could ever give her. So be imaginative this year and give her something she may have never even dreamed of.
We’ve all seen it happen. A child is opening gifts when she gets a playset she already has. Rather than saying thank you, she shrugs, says, “I already have this,” and sets it aside before moving on to the next present. Of course, you’d like to think your daughter would never react that way—or would she?
Being grateful goes way beyond polite manners—a study published in the Journal of School Psychology showed school-age children who count their blessings are happier in school, more optimistic, and feel more satisfied with their lives in general. So often, kids focus on the concrete—what don’t have, and what they want. But always wanting more, different, or better creates anxiety and stress. Recognizing what we do have, instead of focusing on what we don’t, brings peace and calm.
Naturally, gratitude is a value we all hope to see in our children, but because feeling grateful doesn’t have cut-and-dry instructions—like, say, brushing your teeth—it can seem a bit trickier to teach. The great news? When you express gratitude for the awesome people and things in your life, you’re helping your daughter to value similar aspects of hers. It’s not just about tangibles. It’s those more meaningful gifts like a loving family, good friends, food on the table, and good health that matter. Many girls aren’t aware that others don’t have those things.
Follow these tips to spark the conversation:
At a loss for words? Try these easy ice breakers:
Being grateful is a feeling and awareness that develops throughout childhood and adolescence—so don’t be discouraged if your daughter takes some time to jump on the thankfulness train. But know that by setting an example of gratitude you’ll be helping her see—and truly appreciate—all the wonder in her world.
Agreeing on a theme, blowing up balloons, coming up with fun activities, and making kid-friendly snacks are all a piece of cake when compared to the biggest question of all: Who do you have to invite to your girl’s birthday party?
Many schools insist that if your child is having a party (yes, even outside of school hours and off school grounds) that the whole class must be invited so that no child feels left out. And that’s a nice idea in theory, but in practice, it’s a lot more complicated. As we all know, throwing a party—even a very simple one—can be expensive, and the more people invited, the more costly the event becomes. Secondly, not every family has room to host 30 children at their home or the bandwidth to host them for a group outing. Plus, your girl might just want to celebrate with a few select friends. But are these factors enough to warrant not inviting the whole class? Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald says…yes!
“Kids start to form real friendships based on common interests even before grade school,” Dr. Bastiani Archibald says. “So it’s natural that your daughter might prefer to celebrate with just the children she feels closest to. This allows her to spend more quality time with them and increase their bond, which is an important step in her social development.” That said, although your girl might not want to invite everyone in her class, she does need to be kind to and respectful of everyone to minimize hurt feelings.
So, how can you, as her parent help with this? “If you’re only inviting five or six of her closest buddies to your house for a sleepover, or to the park for a soccer game and cake—that’s absolutely fine, but don’t distribute the invitations in class, at a troop meeting, in dance class, or in any other group setting where not every child will be included,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. Wait until after school or class and give them to her friends’ parents, contact them via social media, or help your girl call her guests to invite them personally. Make sure to alert parents that only a small group was invited, so they know what to expect and can avoid putting other parents and children in an awkward situation by asking if they’re going to be attending.
Also, take the time to explain to your child that even though she’s excited about her upcoming celebration, she’s not inviting the whole class or group, so it would be rude and maybe even hurtful of her to talk about it around others. And should word get out, there are some graceful ways she can handle it. If another child gets upset and asks why she didn’t get invited—especially if she’d previously invited your daughter to her own celebrations—your girl can explain that it will be a small party and that she could only invite a few people. “Kids who weren’t invited, but who hear about the party, might be disappointed,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but your daughter shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for connecting on a deeper level with some children than others, and for wanting to share her special day with those she considers her close friends.”
Dr. Bastiani Archibald says that there is, however, one instance in which you probably should extend the invitation to the whole class or group. “If you look at your invite list and realize you’re about to invite 21 out of the 23 children in your girl’s class or seven out of eight kids in her troop or dance class, step back and ask yourself ‘what’s another kid or two?’” she asks. “There’s a big difference between inviting only a small number of kids and inviting almost everyone, so that only a couple of children feel pointedly singled out. The first scenario is fair and fine, but the second one can seem purposefully exclusionary, even if that’s not the case.”
But what if your child is the one who didn’t get invited to the party? Even worse, what if most of her friends are going to this party, and your girl wasn’t asked in the first place? “This is really hard to deal with as a parent, because all you want is for your child to be happy and feel wanted and accepted,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Seeing your daughter grapple with feelings of rejection, sadness, jealousy, and possibly even anger is heartbreaking, but you can help guide her through this experience. Ask her how she’s feeling, and let her know that feeling sad is completely normal and OK. Then tell her about a party or other event you didn’t get invited to (it happens to all of us!) and let her know how you handled it and moved on.” It can also be helpful to remind her of a time when she couldn’t or chose not to invite everyone. Having an empathetic parent on her side to help her think through this will help her process her feelings and feel better.
But do resist the urge to pick up the phone and chew out the parents of the birthday girl or boy for not inviting your daughter. “Just like your daughter has a right to be friends outside of school with whomever she chooses, so does this child.” So unless there’s actual bullying going on, it’s probably best to just let this one go and use it as a teaching moment within your family. It might be helpful to talk with your girl about the difference between being friendly and being a friend. “Liking someone a lot and not having those feelings returned on the same level is hard at any age,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Your girl should know that although she should do her best to be friendly to everyone, friends fill a special role in our lives—and that the depth of those relationships, and the time it takes to foster a real friendship sets those people apart from others.” Your best bet here is to help your girl invest her time and energy in forming relationships with other children who will be as enthusiastic about being friends with her as she is with them.
Your girl is so many wonderful things. She’s smart and thoughtful. She’s creative and daring. She’s curious and strong. Despite all those amazing inner qualities that we want to reinforce daily, it’s likely that as she’s gotten older, you (like so many other parents!) have found yourself getting into at least a few arguments over her outer appearance—the clothing she chooses and the way she chooses to style herself.
Maybe she wants to wear a tux to a school dance, dye her hair blue, or dress in all black with heavy eyeliner—and you’re simply not into the look or think she’ll regret these decisions later on. But before you put a moratorium on her preferred style, take a minute to see things through her eyes.
“Your girl is starting to develop her own identity, and fashion and style are a creative way for her to express her individuality and interests,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “When you dictate what she can and cannot wear based on what you like and don’t, you’re stifling her self-expression, which can affect her ability to make friends and connect with other like-minded kids.” Beyond that, it’s important to keep in mind that many middle and high school age girls already feel self-conscious about their looks, and giving them the freedom to express themselves through clothing they feel good in can boost their confidence.
Of course that doesn’t mean you need to let your girl wear anything and everything she desires, though. “There will be outfits or items that you will say no to because they might not be age-appropriate,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but the important thing is to never say no without an explanation. Let’s say she picked out a dress that you think is too revealing—rather than shutting her down immediately, ask her what she likes about that dress and see if you can come to a compromise.” Chances are, it won’t be hard to find another item that evokes her style—be it emo, boho, edgy, or something else—but with a bit more coverage.
The key is to make sure your girl feels heard and that she can feel good in whatever she’s putting on. If you veto the look she wants to project, she’s far more likely to think you simply don’t respect or value her opinion—neither of which are true!
Besides, you might not agree with your girl’s decision to get a pixie cut or wish she would wear clothing more suited to your own tastes, but really—is your daughter dyeing her hair pink really going to affect anyone in a negative way? “Probably not,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “And besides, there’s going to be way bigger stuff coming up in her life that you really may need to put your foot down over for her own safety and health. It sounds cliché, but this is one of those times where it helps to choose your battles wisely.”
Sexist language that belittles or objectifies women is everywhere right now—you can’t turn on a TV or even sit at a coffee shop without hearing people discussing it. And although it’s a very adult topic, your kids are listening, watching how you respond, and taking it all in. They’re also having their own conversations about it with their peers. As with any sensitive topic, parents can and should tackle the subject with their kids directly. But how can you do this in an age-appropriate and helpful way?
These types of offensive speech and behavior (often subtle and sometimes even unintentional) starts all too early. If you’ve ever told your girl, “Oh, honey, he’s only teasing you because he likes you,” or if you heard a similar sentiment in your own youth, you’ve experienced how our culture often gives boys, from the youngest ages, a free pass when it comes to bad behavior toward girls. And in terms of hard numbers, a 2015 survey found that more than 1 in 10 American girls experience catcalls or general street harassment before the age of 11. So while you may consider this subject far removed from your girl’s life, it is a lot closer than you think.
When girls witness these attitudes and behavior being written off as normal, there are serious and lasting consequences. Without even realizing it, they start focusing more time on how they look than exploring how they think or what they can do. The clothing they gravitate toward, even when very young, may emphasize sexuality more than comfort or individual expression. Girls may mistreat their bodies in order to attain the physique deemed most desirable by our culture. Most devastating of all, aggressive and belittling language creates an environment in which girls are less likely to speak up and share their ideas, less likely to think they're qualified for powerful jobs, and less likely to report instances of sexual harassment or violence. (Seventy-one percent of workplace sexual harassment goes unreported, as do 74 percent of sexual assaults.) Often girls and women worry they are in part to blame or don’t want to look like they’re “attention-seeking” or “making a big deal over nothing.”
And it’s not just girls who suffer from this kind of language—boys do, too. When they hear speech that objectifies, belittles, or normalizes violence against women and girls, they’re at risk of growing up with a warped sense of masculinity—one devoid of empathy, compassion, or respect for half of society. And that’s a gender stereotype that isn’t good or healthy for anyone. Indeed, when boys are taught they have to be “tough,” and when sexist language is seen as acceptable both behind closed doors and on the street, for instance, in the form of catcalling, boys can feel pressure to emulate a distorted model of manhood. That means they can also have trouble learning how to cope with the very real emotional challenges life throws their way and are less likely to be able to process their feelings in a healthy way for fear of being seen as “weak.” And children (both boys and girls) who have been raised without the capability to acknowledge uncomfortable feelings or to cope with life’s many hurdles can turn to destruction, violence, and violation as ways to work out their frustration, hurt, and anger.
This kind of damaging talk not only teaches boys that it’s acceptable to treat girls and women with less respect than their male peers, but it also raises girls to believe that their bodies are literally up for grabs—that their appearance is the most valuable asset they have—and that their voices don't matter. Beyond that, it also confuses boys and gives a bad name to men, most of whom do have a great deal of respect for girls and women.
Having these conversations with your children is essential because we can and must do better—for our girls, for our boys, for all of us. Here are a few ways you can tackle the topic and give your kids the skills to stand up against sexist, objectifying language and behavior.
Having these conversations with our children and calling out behavior that objectifies women can sometimes be uncomfortable—for men and women. Facing that bit of discomfort is worth it because we all have a responsibility to raise boys and girls who treat every person with equal respect and dignity.
Even though princess no longer ranks as the Number One Halloween costume for kids in our country (super heroes have come out on top!) millions of girls are still drawn to the luscious hair, fancy dresses, and sparkling crowns that come with being a princess. “Absolutely embrace your girl’s wishes to dress up as a princess,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “The important thing is that she have many diverse costume options available to her and that she makes that decision on her own, based on her own interests and passions. Allowing dramatic play and dress-up times to be girl-led helps your daughter learn about decision making and self-expression while also developing her creativity and imagination.”
If your girl does decide she wants to be a princess for Halloween—either one she’s invented, or one she knows from a film, book, or TV show—ask her what she admires about that princess, and why she’d like to dress up as her for this year’s festivities. Girls, especially those who are very young, might at first mention the princess’s beauty or style, so urge her to think deeper about the other qualities her favorite princess might have. Is she brave? Kind to others? Does she help people in her kingdom when they have problems? These characteristics are the same ones that will help your girl go far in life, so it’s important to help her recognize them in the characters she admires from an early age. It will also let her know that those traits are the things you value most in the people you look up to, above looks or material possessions.
It’s important to engage your kids in conversations about why they want to dress up as a certain character, creature, or person. “So many costumes for girls and young women focus on superficial appearances rather than abilities or even super powers, of the character, and many, even for young girls, are sexualized,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “So take the time to go beyond what her costume looks like and really have a conversation with her about why she’s attracted to that particular choice.”
By using your girl’s desire to dress as a princess as a teaching moment, you can help her understand that princesses (and all girls and women!) are so much more than simply pretty. They can be powerful and have great responsibilities. They can invent new ways of doing things, and help people live happier, healthier lives. They can truly change the world. And sure, they can have good hair while accomplishing those things, but really, that’s just icing on the cake.
Discussions around empathy, determination, and being open-minded, and how those things make any good leader—be it a princess, CEO, or even a mom—great will not only help her really own her role this holiday, but will serve as a model for how she should live her life. And that is perhaps the greatest trick or treat any parent could possibly ask for.
In a world where divisive language is seemingly everywhere, and arguments over who “belongs” and who doesn’t seem pointedly heated, there are a lot of people talking about the importance of teaching our children “tolerance.” And while those intentions are definitely a step in the right direction, in reality, tolerance simply isn’t good enough.
Why? Well, think about the very word “tolerance” and the kinds of things you tolerate. We tolerate pain when necessary. We tolerate a friend’s bad mood. We tolerate a stressful day at the office. None of those things are good, but they’re things we have to suffer through anyway. Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, breaks it down for us: “When we use the word ‘tolerance’ and teach kids to tolerate those who are different from themselves—whether in skin color, nationality, their belief system, the language they speak, how they choose to dress or represent themselves, their physical abilities, sexual orientation, or body shape and size—we’re reinforcing differences and implying that those people are somehow beneath or worth less than others, but that we need to ‘put up with them’ anyway.”
And that view, that some groups of people who are different from us are less valuable, is damaging to our society as a whole. We will never create a culture free from fear, hate crimes, and targeted violence if we continue to simply preach tolerance. Tolerance is not enough.
This isn’t an issue of simply seeing and celebrating our similarities—although, of course that’s important, too. It’s also about helping our kids acknowledge our differences and to know those differences are exciting, cool, and vital to our world. “As Americans, diversity is our biggest asset,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “The best inventions, the most innovative and progressive ideas come out of this diversity, and yet there are loud voices in the media and on national stages who are sending conflicting messages about that. We need to combat those sentiments at home, with our children first. We need to teach them to look beyond stereotypes, embrace people different from themselves—and to actually value the variety of beliefs, customs, ideas, and experiences that they bring to the table.”
But how can you, as a parent, help with this?
First, check out your own perceptions of and behavior toward people who are different from you or your family. Your children learn how to navigate this world by watching you—so model inclusion and respect. Mention the attributes that make people in your life different from you and talk about why you think those things are interesting, wonderful, beautiful, or valuable. Tell your daughter how and why it’s important for you to hear different opinions of your friends, even those you might not agree with, because they help you learn and grow as a person.
Remind your kids that when they hear people saying hateful things about a person or group of people based on the color of their skin, background, or other distinguishing characteristics, that what they’re hearing is a stereotype. “Explain to your child that sometimes instead of taking the time to get to know or understand a person or a group, some people will take a short cut and make assumptions about them instead,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Talk to her about how stereotypes might play out in her life. For instance, if she’s in third grade, ask her if all third grade girls look like she does, act like she does, and think like she does. When she says, ‘No,’ make the connection between that kind of broad-stroke thinking and the kinds of stereotypes she might be hearing both on the playground at school and in the media.”
And perhaps most importantly, help introduce your children to a variety of people from all backgrounds and experiences. If the people in your friend group and social circle in general are very similar in most ways to your family, take the time to branch out and get to know some people who look, think, or live their lives in a different way than you do. Perhaps a local business is run by a family of a different ethnicity than yours, or maybe your neighbors practice a religion you aren’t too familiar with. Get to know these people! Yes, there may be some obvious differences between you, but chances are you also have many things in common. When your children see you not simply tolerating, but actually including people who are different from yourself, they will be more likely to do the same.
But what do you do if your child is the one who’s “different” in her school or town? What if she’s the one being treated differently or even bullied based on “isms” around her skin color, beliefs, or lifestyle? “No one wants to think that their child will be seen this way, but our world is far from perfect, and we know stereotyping and other hurtful behavior can start at an early age,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. Of course, just as any parent would, you want to encourage your child to be respectful and open. Going into a group situation by talking about something she has in common with the other children, be it a shared experience, a game they all enjoy playing, or a TV show or book that’s popular with most of her class—is a great way for any child to connect with others.
Still, many children learn prejudices from the adults in their lives, and might say hateful things or be abusive toward her. “If that happens,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “she needs to know that she can and should tell you or a trusted adult at school—and that you and her school administration will do everything in your power to keep her safe—emotionally and physically.” This isn’t even necessarily about disciplinary action (although it may need to be, depending on the situation), but more about finding ways to educate and open the minds of your child’s fellow-students. “It can feel very isolating and burdensome to be in this situation,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “because when it’s your child who’s facing prejudice, it often falls to you to take the lead and start working on solutions to the problem. Reach out to other parents and school officials (of all backgrounds—you might be surprised at who wants to be an ally) to form a network of support and start thinking of activities and other ways your child’s class and larger school community can be structured to foster inclusion and the best experiences for all.”
The bottom line? This might seem like a grown-up topic, but no child is too young to learn about appreciating and valuing other humans—especially those who might, at first glance, seem quite different from themselves. Talks around diversity, inclusion, and celebrating our differences need to be ongoing and present in our children’s lives, so get the conversation going if you haven’t already.
Being picked on, made fun of, or straight out bullied is traumatic in many ways—but it might also be something your girl feels uneasy telling you about. While you of course would want to support your girl in every way you can, she might worry that you’ll be disappointed in her—or even think the situation would only get worse if she asked for help. Additionally, there's a chance that she doesn't fully understand what's going on or doesn't want to be seen as overly sensitive, so she might not classify bullying behaviors as bullying—even when they clearly are. That said, she might be telling you something’s wrong in other ways. Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, has identified a few things your girls might say that could indicate a bigger problem.
The bottom line is to get your girl talking. Bullying can be a really tricky topic to get into, but it’s important to keep the lines of communication open—and for your girl to know you love her and are there to support her, no matter what. And remember, while it’s always great to cultivate independence and assist your daughter in solving social challenges directly and independently, bullying behavior can be more than many children can handle on their own. Talk with her about your interest in alerting her teacher or an administrator at school to simply take a closer look at what’s going on, or to let them know about the situation. She needs to know you’re on her team.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, but one type of family that often goes ignored in the media is the grand family—where grandparents take the lead to help raise their grandchildren. This could be either in the form of legal adoption or just in playing a very active role in their grandchildren’s lives, but whatever the case, a whole lot of grandparents are getting in on the act. Recent stats show that nearly 8 million kids in our country live in grand families and that one in ten American grandparents live with at least one grandchild.
And raising or helping to raise grandchildren isn’t all fun and games, either. While some other grandparents are kicking back, enjoying the retired life, these hard-working grandmas and grandpas are attending parent-teacher conferences, spending money to feed and clothe the next generation, and generally going through the whole mom and dad thing all over again. Check out these five ways grandparents are amazing at raising kids, and then join us in giving them a standing ovation!
Whether you’re going to the next town over or all the way overseas, getting away from your normal surroundings and routine can be amazing for you and the girl in your life. “Having adventures together—trying new things, meeting new people—it’s an amazing way to get to know your girl better and to help her grow and gain confidence,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald. Plus, taking your girl out of her typical environment will help broaden her horizons and show her how different—or similar!—things can be beyond her hometown. Follow these simple tips to get the most out of your getaway.
Getting away from it all and hitting the open (or, um, completely congested with traffic) road can be one of the most economical ways for families to spend their holidays. But not only are car trips easier on your wallet than a plane trip, they can also be an amazingly fun way to bond with your family and make memories that your children will treasure forever. After all, in this busy world, time with our loved ones is more precious than ever. Make the getting-there part of your holiday even more magical by playing these easy games. You’ll be there before you know it!
Pick a person in the car to start telling a story, but then tell them they’re only allowed to tell the first sentence of the story they’re making up. Going clockwise, each person in the car will add to the story until three rounds are over. So, for instance, your girl might start with, “Once there was a dragon who liked to make pasta.” (Seriously, encourage the silliness—it’ll help grow your child’s imagination.) Then your partner might say, “And he had his very own cooking show on TV called Dragon Treats!” Nothing passes time faster than creating exciting new worlds. If you’re on a longer trip and need to give your girl an added activity, set her up with some crayons and paper, and have her draw pictures to go along with the stories you create.
License Plate Bingo
Print out a map of the U.S. for each person in your car (someone else needs to handle the driver’s map, obviously!) and then play a fun—and educational!—game of bingo. When anyone in the car sees an out-of-state license plate, they need to shout it out and then mark it on their map. By the end of the trip, the passenger with the most states marked off on their map wins. Competitive fun? Check. An activity that isn’t screen-based? Double-check. Sneaky geography skill-builder? Triple check! Basically? Everyone wins.
The Picnic Game
On this variation of the alphabet game, the driver starts off by saying, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing an apple!” (It doesn’t have to be an apple— anything starting with the letter A will do.) Then, going clockwise, the next person will say, “I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing an apple and a banana!” Each person needs to recite the whole list of what came before, before adding an additional item that starts with the next letter of the alphabet—making each round a little tougher than the last. The first person who breaks the chain and can’t remember all the picnic basket items has to start from scratch!
Whether you’re about to send your girl off to an overnight summer camp, visitor day is fast approaching, or she’s just about to come home, you should know there are a few things you can do as a parent to decrease the drama and up the fun factor for everyone. Here’s the scoop from Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D. on how to make it work for you.
Get Her Ready
Help her pack, but don’t do it all for her. Make sure she’s involved and picks out some of her favorite clothes to bring along, and that she knows where everything goes in her overnight bag or suitcase. This will help her feel both a sense of ownership over the process and have a sense of security in knowing what she’s got and where it all is.
Also when it comes to packing, make sure you know the rules about what she can and cannot have at camp—and follow them! Many camps, including Girl Scout summer camps, don’t allow girls to bring technology (including cell phones and tablets), and that’s a good thing! Trust us, it’s a lot easier for your girl to grow in confidence, strength, and independence when she’s not calling home every day. And in the case of a real serious need? The staff at her camp will of course help to connect the two of you via phone or in some other way.
Send Her Off With a Smile
Let’s get one thing straight: Anxious parents = anxious campers. While it’s true that some children are nervous to go to summer camp, many of them aren’t—at least, not until parents put it in their mind that they should be! The thing is that your attitude about summer camp has a huge influence over how she’ll view the whole endeavor. Saying things like, “Don’t be nervous/worried/scared about going to camp, it’s going to be fun!” might seem like a good idea on the surface, but unless your daughter has expressed having those feelings on her own, you’re basically suggesting that she should have those uncomfortable feelings about going away just by mentioning them. Not exactly the best way to set her up for success! Similarly, if you’re excited and play up all the great experiences she’ll have at camp without even mentioning the bad and sad stuff, she’s a lot more likely to feel happy and confident at camp from day one.
Essentially, let her lead the conversation about camp. If she’s not worried that she’ll have nightmares, why bring them up as a possibility? If she doesn’t already think she’ll feel homesick, again, no need to even utter the word!
Visit Like a Pro
So, remember how when you’re packing her for camp, you should keep in mind what she’s allowed to have and what she isn’t? The same goes for what you bring to her on summer camp visitor’s day! “Sneaking” a couple things into camp for your girl might be well-intentioned, but the truth is, it could put your girl in a super awkward position (what if she’s caught with it?) and could even lead to jealousy and in-fighting among the girls she’s just begun to bond with.
When you get there (be on time so she’s not waiting around while all the other happy families reunite!), really let her lead the way. You’re on her turf for once, and you should give her the chance to feel pride in her ability to introduce you to all the things about camp that she loves the most.
One thing to avoid? Talking about home too much. Regaling her with stories about the adorable things her puppy did last week, or filling her in on the neighborhood barbeque could make her feel homesick, even if she wasn’t feeling that way to begin with. As much as you can, keep the focus on camp and all the incredible things she’s accomplishing there.
This should go without saying, but don’t ask counselors to give your girl special treatment or to create different rules just for her—and no trying to slip a staffer a few bucks to do something “on the sly!” That just creates an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved (and will probably embarrass your girl to no end).
Make Homecoming Sweet
Think back to when you’d visit home after your first semester at college—or how it felt to stay overnight at your parents’ house after living outside the home for a while. Sure, you loved using the washing machine and eating Dad’s awesome cooking, but didn’t you miss some of your freedom? That’s exactly what your girl might be feeling, especially if she had an awesome time at camp. Your girl might be homesick for camp and all the friends she met there. She also might be frustrated to have to start doing her chores again and have a little trouble getting back in the swing of things in general. So be patient and give her a little bit of space as she transitions back to her normal life. On the flipside, there is a chance she’ll be so eager to put camp behind her and get back to her everyday activities and all of her neighborhood friends. However she’s feeling, just remember that this is a time of adjustment for her and that she might need a day or two to rest after coming home (there’s a good chance she didn’t sleep as much as she should have!).
And finally, respect—and even celebrate—the fact that your girl has had tons of new experiences and that she’s probably grown and changed a bit as a person since she left for camp. Your girl couldn’t stand pickles before, but as soon as she’s back from camp, she can’t get enough of them? Just go with it. Maybe she made a good friend who turned her onto their crunchy, salty goodness. No need to make a big deal about the fact that she never liked them before! Encourage her to tell stories about the happy times at camp and to even teach you about some of the things she learned. Half the fun of going away and having new adventures is coming back home and sharing them with the ones we love.
We know you want the best for the girls in your life—and that few things are as important to you as their health, safety, happiness, and access to opportunities in life. But wanting something and taking action to make it a reality are two very different things. That’s right—it’s not enough to simply hope for the best when it comes to your girl, you have to actually help create that bright future for her.
Your girl needs you more than you know. In fact, a girl’s relationship with her father lays the foundation for her confidence and her future relationships and expectations of men. Here are four simple ways you can set your girl up for success in life.
A world in which we all contribute to helping girls reach their bright, bold potential is a better world for everyone. Girls need (and want!) their dads and father figures in their lives just as much as they need their mothers and female mentors. Thanks for doing your part, and for helping girls to be the best they can be.
Ah, summer. Time to bust out the sunscreen, pop on your favorite shades, and—yes!—take a few minutes to make sure you’re up on all the latest pool safety tips. It might seem like a downer to think about all the scary things that could happen when your little ones are in the water (drowning is the second leading cause of injury death in children ages 1-14, according to the CDC), but you’ll feel more confident and have a lot more fun at the pool when you know you’ve done everything possible to keep your children safe and happy during swim time.
Becky Simpson, Resident Camp Director and Program Manager at Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma, shared these simple yet super important tips:
Get your swim on
Make sure all members of your family are comfortable in the water and know how to swim. Community centers and organizations across the country offer baby, toddler, and child swimming lessons. Start your kids off early, especially if you have a pool or they are often near the water during summer. That said, you have to know how to swim as well! If you never learned, sign up to take a class with your girl or ask about adult classes in your neighborhood.
Keep an eye out
When children are in the pool, at least one adult should always be present and actively watching (i.e. not chatting on the phone, checking social media, or reading a book). I know you might think your girl or any child in the pool would call for help if they found themselves in trouble, and that catching up on your favorite magazines poolside won’t hurt—but the truth is, when someone is drowning they’re usually fighting to breathe, let alone talk or yell. That’s why you need to be able to see the visual cues of trouble, which include paddling without making forward progress or bobbing up and down in place without moving forward or backward. When it comes to pool safety, the number one thing kids need is your undivided attention.
Lock it up
Ensure that any pool your children are near is surrounded by a tall (at least 4-foot) fence with a self-latching gate, and that your kids know they can only be in the pool area if an adult is present. Although it may seem like a nuisance to have to unlatch the gate every time you want to go in or out of the pool area (especially if your hands are full!) it’s a small sacrifice to make to ensure that your child and any other children present are kept out of harm’s way.
Don’t Bet on Inflatable Toys
Inflatable arm bands, sometimes called swimmies or water wings, are popular among parents whose children can’t swim or are just learning how to swim. Many people believe these and other inflatable water toys enable non-swimmers and weak swimmers to splash the day away without risk of drowning, but the truth is that these toys can offer a false sense of security. What if the seal around the air plug weakens, causing air to slowly leak out of the arm band or floatation ring? What if a hole is torn? When you’re looking for water safety equipment, do your research and make sure any and all safety-related floatation devices have been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Most of these are made of durable floatation foam and will last a long time. The inflatable stuff is fun (come on, who wouldn’t want to glide around the pool on a giant, inflatable pink donut?!) but shouldn’t be counted on to keep non-swimmers afloat!
Stay away from the drain
Show your children the drain in the pool you’re using and make sure they know to steer clear of it while swimming and splashing about. When hair, bathing suits, or bodies get pulled down and trapped by the powerful suction of a pool drain, the force can be so strong that even fully grown adults can’t manage to pull a child off the vent and save them from injury or drowning. Just in case of an accident, though, keep a pair of scissors poolside (but out of reach of small children!) that you could use to cut hair or clothing away from a drain. You’ll probably never need them, but knowing they’re there will give you an extra ounce of security—which we all know as parents is never a bad thing!
It’s pretty common around this time of year: You had big hopes of turning a new leaf and really getting healthy in the new year, but now, a few months in, you’re realizing nothing has changed. The great news? Every single day is a new opportunity to make the (Small! Easy!) changes necessary to have a much healthier, happier 2018. And the truth is, it really is the small easy changes that eventually become lifelong healthy habits. These tips from Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Andrea Bastiani Archibald, will make it painless and even fun.
Resist the Urge to Dive In
Remember your grand intentions about suddenly going to the gym every day? There’s a reason why that probably didn’t go so well. When you try to go from zero to 100, it’s overwhelming—not just physically (ouch!) but also mentally. If you think what you’re doing is going to be incredibly difficult, you might start feeling defeated before you even begin. That’s why it’s important to start small and work your way up to the bigger stuff. Bundle up and go for a walk as a family every Sunday morning. After a few weeks, try increasing it to a jog or even a full blown run around the neighborhood.
Get Her Cooking
The amazing thing about fruits and vegetables (what we should be eating most of) is that there are so many varieties to choose from. Bring your daughter grocery shopping with you and help her pick out a vegetable that interests her each week. Look up ways to prepare it together, and then—if your daughter is old enough—have her help you cook a dish with it. When you serve the finished product as a side-dish to a family-favorite main course, she’ll feel proud of her involvement and be far more excited to try it. Over the months, you’ll discover all kinds of new, healthy foods you and your family love—and your daughter will become a little chef!
Go from A to Zzzzzzs
The saying goes that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but almost nothing is as important to your family’s healthy new start as getting a good night’s sleep. When you’re overtired, you’re more likely to overeat, and to specifically gravitate toward unhealthy choices. You’re also less likely to feel up for physical activity. So make sure your daughter’s bedtime (and yours, for that matter!) is early enough for her to get the recommended 9 to 11 hours of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
February 14th is coming and that means that kids across the country will be swapping heart-laden cards in classrooms for Valentine’s Day. But should your girl bring Valentines in the first place? Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald says yes!
“Valentine’s Day, at its core is about friendship and love, and that’s a good thing,” she says. But of course, if your girl is bringing them to school, to a soccer match, or to her Girl Scout troop meeting, she should bring them for all the children—not just those she’s close friends with. “Singling a few friends out gets awkward and can hurt feelings, which is why most schools and teachers actually have rules about this type of thing,” she adds.
The best thing about this holiday, Dr. Bastiani Archibald says, is
that it’s not about big gifts or huge displays—it really is simply
about little tokens of kindness and friendliness. And while of course
store-bought cards will do the trick, Valentine’s Day is also a
wonderful opportunity for your daughter to get creative, making her
own cute cards and notes to distribute.
What to do if someone brings Valentines for most of the class, but she didn’t get one and feels left out? Assume the best of intentions. There may have been a mistake (especially if Mom or Dad was up into the wee hours the previous night making sure all those little cards were ready to go). That said, if you have reason to believe another child purposefully didn’t give your girl a Valentine to be mean or spiteful, and your daughter is feeling very hurt, talk it over with her and then think about asking the teacher to set up a conversation between the two girls. Who knows, a real friendship could come out of this little glitch and prove once again that Valentine’s Day really can bring people together.
Your daughter and her bestie have always been like peanut butter and jelly. Birds of a feather. Two peas in a pod. If your girl ever ignored you to check a text, there was never a doubt who was on the other end of those emojis. Until…now.
Whether hurt feelings are involved or the two are simply growing apart, friend breakups can be confusing, painful, and even potentially damaging to her sense of self. And assuming you’ve gone through a friendship fizzle once or twice in your own life, your heart is likely absolutely aching for her.
Instead of making excuses for the other girl, taking sides, or trying to ignore the whole situation away, there are a few things you can do to help. (Besides opening up a container of ice cream. Although ice cream is often good in these situations, too!)
Find Out if It’s a Breakup or a Shakeup
Let’s say your daughter comes home from soccer practice insisting she’s never speaking to her BFF again. Friendship over! Or is it? Unless it’s typical for this girl to mistreat or bully your girl (in which case, she’s better off without her!), this is probably worth a little extra investigating.
Ask her what happened. If the other girl said or did something hurtful unintentionally (or, who knows, possibly intentionally), ask if the two of them talked about it afterward and if your daughter let her friend know how she was feeling.
Suggest that when she sees her friend next, she uses an “I” statement to explain her feelings and try to get to the bottom of things. It works like this:
There’s a chance this was all a misunderstanding or that the other girl wants an opportunity to apologize so the two of them can get past this. There’s even the possibility that your girl might learn she’s unintentionally done something to upset her friend.
Calmly and compassionately discussing the emotional play-by-play of relationships is a skill that most of us could still work on. If she starts practicing healthy communication now, it will benefit her throughout her life in all kinds of circumstances—and might just help salvage this friendship!
Give Her a Break (with a Bit Less Drama)
You know the Girl Scout camp song that goes, “make new friends, but keep the old”? Note that it doesn’t say, “make new friends, but keep the old and hang out with each of them all the time, even if you don’t have that much in common anymore.”
It’s sad, but sometimes the friendships that once meant everything to us change and shift so that they no longer serve the purpose they once did. And as girls get older and start discovering more about who they are, where their passions lie, and what roles they want to play in this world, it’s only natural that they may grow apart from friends they once held so dear. That process (and the awareness that it’s happening!) can be confusing and upsetting for both girls to navigate.
If your daughter is the one who has “outgrown” some of her older interests and friend groups, there’s a chance her former bestie is accusing your girl of acting like someone she’s not (even though she’s just naturally evolving) or giving her guilt trips for hanging out with a new crowd. All of that can feel pretty crummy, lead your daughter to have feelings of anger or resentment, and leave her tempted to call off that relationship altogether.
Obviously, your daughter doesn’t have to remain best friends (or
even really friends at all!) with anyone—it’s important to honor the
good times they did have by being kind and respectful.
Many times, the best way to handle a situation like this is by simply taking an informal break instead of specifically breaking up. That way, there’s no big announcement of “we’re not friends anymore!” but your girl can slowly start to spend more time with other people while pressing pause on a friendship that just isn’t working out so great right now. If they miss each other and want to bridge the gap that had formed between them, great! The break was just temporary, and they can go back to being better friends. If not, then it just wasn’t meant to be.
She may feel guilty about putting some space between herself and her friend, but remind her that it’s not a crime to stop enjoying someone else’s company. What’s never OK? Putting someone else down, making fun of them, ghosting without explanation, betraying their trust (no blabbing her deepest secrets now that they’re not besties!), or otherwise going out of the way to make them feel excluded.
And as for social? Unfriending, unfollowing, or deleting pics from happier times can essentially serve as a declaration of war in Girl World. Urge your daughter to take the more subtle approach by adjusting her settings so she sees less of the former bestie (without actually severing digital ties) or simply spending less time online herself.
When It’s Really and Truly Broken
If she’s the one who got ditched or is being mistreated, she’s likely having all the feels—from being majorly bummed out to wishing her former bestie ultimate doom—and that can mean some serious mood swings. If she’s already expressed her sadness and confusion to the other girl, suggest she journal out the rest of her feelings in an old-fashioned notebook. It’ll give her the time and space to work through her emotions without running the risk of saying something on social or in another public forum that could cause even more drama.
Also, be there to listen, and take her feelings seriously. If she’s upset, let her be—she’s mourning an important relationship in her life, and that shouldn’t be simply brushed off. Urge her to think not only about what she misses about her friend but also what she definitely doesn’t miss. Did her friendship ever leave her feeling bad about herself, wondering if she was “cool enough,” or thinking she needed to be or do something she didn’t feel comfortable with? Those are all signs that some time off from this girl could be a great thing.
Give her space, but also encourage her to put herself in situations where she might meet new girls more aligned with her interests and values. Challenging herself to learn something new—like how to skateboard or play her favorite song on guitar—could also be a healthy distraction right now and give her something to feel proud of in the end.
The hurt of a best friend breakup can run really deep, but with you by her side to guide her, you’ll both make it through and could end up closer than ever.
The notion that friendship is magic is sweet, but did you know that it’s also pretty accurate? Recent studies have shown that when your girl has a friend by her side:
Kind of magical, right? There’s no doubt you’ve always wanted your daughter to have friends and fun in her life, but given the benefits of friendship, you might want to take more of a role in helping her foster the kind of healthy and meaningful relationships she’s naturally ready for. It’s only normal that as your girl gets a little older, starts school, and gains independence, friendships of proximity and convenience will give way to relationships based on common interests, values, and similarities in personality. Here are three super simple ways you can help her find those friends and nourish meaningful relationships:
First thing in the morning. On the way to school. As soon as she gets home. Even after you’ve told her lights out. If those are just some of the times your girl is likely to be staring at her phone, you’re not alone in being concerned—in fact, two out of three parents feel their teen spends too much time on mobile devices. But is her phone attachment really cause for concern? Kids today are growing up in a digital world, even more so than previous generations. And just like all the other places we need to help our kids be healthy and strong, we need to support them here, too. We talked to Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald to get the scoop.
“According to recent studies, a full 50 percent of teens say they’re addicted to their devices, and they’re probably right in a way,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but that doesn’t mean that your daughter’s time on her phone isn’t ever worthwhile.” Sure, cell phones can be used for a billion different things these days—including some fairly mindless games, but there are a lot of really interesting and beneficial things your daughter is probably doing on her phone as well. First off, some games are educational or require strategy and thought processes that will help her in other arenas. Plus, the photography and film making capabilities on today’s phones are helping more and more young people explore their creativity in a very empowering, hands-on way. “Kids who in past generations would have never had access to high-quality cameras or video equipment are more likely to have those tools at their fingertips today,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “and that means they have the ability to create their own stories and express themselves in powerful and artistic new ways."
As you probably already know from your own daughter’s habits, though, sending texts is one of the most popular things for teens to do with their phones. It’s estimated that roughly 7 in 10 girls text friends on a daily basis, but that number may be even higher. “The amount of texting might seem extreme or even unnecessary to some parents—maybe when you were growing up, you’d just walk down the block and meet up with your best friend,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, “but today’s kids are too often overscheduled. They tend to live farther from their friends or don’t have the ability to see them as often face-to-face.” In fact, just 25 percent of teens get to spend time with their friends in-person outside of school.
Dr. Bastiani Archibald emphasizes that developing and maintaining close friendships through adolescence is important to your daughter’s confidence, social development, and general emotional health. “Even if girls are just trading jokes or talking about what movie they want to see this weekend, these quick texts are helping to strengthen friendships—and studies show that girls with strong friendships are happier, have more confidence, and adapt more easily to new situations. All good things!” And if you’re frustrated with the amount of time your daughter devotes to scrolling on social media, chew on this: a whopping 68 percent of teens who use Instagram, Facebook, or similar platforms say they’ve received support in tough or challenging times through their social network.
But is there a time you should take a stand when it comes to your daughter’s phone use? “Bullying can happen via texting or social media, so if looking at her phone tends to make her upset or anxious, you should talk to her about what’s going on,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. She suggests asking your daughter who she’s been chatting with, what she likes about those friends, and also which things about them she might be annoyed or frustrated by. And while she acknowledges that especially with younger children, a spot check of messages or social media is often fully appropriate—because younger kids might not be as aware of how the messages they send are coming across, and they might also not be aware of or know how to handle inappropriate situations—she still emphasizes direct communication in these matters. “The key is to get her to open up to you, rather than regularly spying on her messages or texts,” she says, “which could betray her trust and make her less likely to share important information with you in the future. Asking kids how they treat each other in texts and on social is just as important as asking about how they treat each other in the cafeteria.”
As for the amount of time she spends on her phone, it’s likely your daughter agrees that she could cut back. In fact, more than half of teens fully admit that they spend too much time on mobile devices. But before you start limiting your kid’s screen time, you might want to step back and think about how much time you spend attached to your phone as well. In a recent study, 54 percent of kids said their parents checked their devices too often, and more than one in three said they felt unimportant when their parents were distracted by their phones. So the problem goes both ways.
How to fix? Set aside no-phone times with your family, when all of your phones get put in a drawer, in a basket, or in the other room “Family meal times are an ideal time for this, but you might also want to add in an extra hour or two without screens each night, or decide that none of you will use phones for anything other than GPS on a family car ride,” advises Dr. Bastiani Archibald. Have your kids help decide when it makes most sense for everyone to put down their phones so they take ownership and don't just see it as a punishment. After all, some conversations are better to have in-person than over text or social media, and it’s important that your kids can communicate directly just as well as they can digitally. Have your children help set the ground rules and decide on appropriate times beyond meal times for face-to-face conversation only. “You might feel some anxiety at first, wondering if you’re missing messages, but you’ll get to them soon enough—and the conversations and bonding time you’ll have as a family will end up being worth the sacrifice.”
From the chalky candy hearts, corny greeting cards, and promise of cupid’s arrow, people either love Valentine’s Day or they hate it. But there’s a newer holiday—Galentine’s Day—that we’re pretty sure everyone can get behind.
For those of you who haven’t heard of this fun holiday, it was started in the fictional world by Amy Poehler’s character on her show Parks and Recreation as a celebration of female friendship. Since then, Galentine’s Day has found its way into the real world with girls and women across the country setting aside time every February 13th to let their wonderful, smart, caring, and generally awesome besties know how much their friendship means. It’s the best idea ever, right? And just in case you need more convincing, here are five scientifically proven reasons to raise up friendships—both your own and your daughter’s, or those of any young girl in your life!
We could list about 10,000 other reasons why our girlfriends are the best in the whole wide world (who else sends you the funniest emoji-filled texts first thing in the morning?!), but then you’d be spending all your time reading this instead of planning the most epic Galentine’s Day ever. So spread the love, have fun, and let friendship rule the world.
Learn how you or your girl can make new friends here!
You want a lot of things for your daughter, and a life rich in friendships is definitely among them. Having a great partner in crime (or two or three or five!) will give her a sense of belonging, enrich her sense of self, teach her about compassion and loyalty, and boost her confidence as she grows up and experiences all life has to offer.
Friends are special in our lives. They’re the ones we count on when times get tough. They’re the ones who share our secrets and make every day more fun. Friends are precious, which is why they’re likened to precious metals in one of the most famous Girl Scout songs of all time. But although the beloved lyrics insist we should “make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold,” nowhere do they say “and by the way, you have to be friends with everybody”— which might be hard to swallow in this age of social media where one can have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of so-called “friends” online.
“Teach your daughter to have respect for and be kind to all people,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Ph.D., “but know that actual friendship is something different—something deeper—that will develop between your girl and some kids, but not others.” So, even if you had high hopes that your girl would want to be forever friends with the daughter of your closest friend, it might not work out that way, and that’s OK.
“What makes a good friend for one person might not make a good friend for another,” Dr. Bastiani Archibald continues. “Help her learn what makes a good friend for her specifically. Does she prefer outgoing children who will be eager to join her for adventures, or is she happier engaging in quiet play with other like-minded kids?” Choosing friends is a highly personal thing, and so many factors from your girl’s interests to her sense of humor will affect who she forms stronger bonds with. Your girl will feel happiest and most fulfilled in friendships that are based on those things rather than forced into being over a sense of obligation or guilt. And very young girls often don’t even know why they are friends with someone and not with someone else: they just click (or don’t) and that’s totally okay and normal.
All that said, tricky situations can arise when your daughter wants to be friends with someone who doesn’t return her feelings of friendship. “It’s only natural for her to be sad, confused, or even angry if the girl she wants to be friends with is less than excited to hang out with her,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “And it can also be hard for you as her parent, since you can’t imagine anyone not wanting your amazing daughter in their lives. But instead of picking up the phone and giving an earful to the other girl’s mother, take a step back and remember that just as you teach your daughter she can be friends with (and not be friends with!) whomever she wishes, this other girl has the same right.” Handling social disappointments gracefully is a skill we could probably all stand to work on—so unless you see signs of actual bullying or rude behavior toward your daughter, urge her to let it go and focus her energy on the friends she already has, or to seek out other, different children who might be looking for new friends, too.
Slumber parties are the Most. Fun. Ever. But is your daughter ready for a night away from home? Our Chief Girl Expert, Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald will help you send her off with confidence.
Think back: Your memories of childhood sleepovers are likely filled with giggles, whispered promises of friendship, and so much fun you begged to stay just a little longer when your parents came to pick you up. What you might not realize is that those experiences helped shape you into the resilient, confident, and generous woman you are today—and they can do the same for your daughter, too.
Make Sure She’s Ready
Because all girls socially mature at different rates, there’s no hard and fast age at which you should start exploring sleepovers with your little one. To determine whether your daughter is prepared for this new adventure, Dr. Bastiani Archibald recommends making sure she:
“Even at the youngest ages, girls want to spend time with and reinforce their connections to their friends,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, but if she’s struggling in one or more of these areas, it’s likely too early for her to spend the night away from home.
Do a Trial Run (or Three!)
Once you’ve determined your daughter is primed for her first sleepover, test the waters by hosting a mock sleepover—complete with sleeping bags!—in your own home. Make some popcorn, play games, and then snuggle down in the den or living room.
If you have family living locally, this would also be an ideal time to have her try staying overnight at their house, since she’s likely already comfortable in that setting. A successful sleepover at Auntie’s house may give your daughter the confidence she needs to stay at a friend’s home next.
Finally, you can invite a good friend of hers to come over for an “after dinner party,” where the girls can play, have snacks, and maybe even watch a movie in their pj’s from their sleeping bags. Instead of having her stay over, though, you and your daughter can plan to walk or drive the friend home at an “exciting” time—aka, a little after their normal bedtimes. It’ll give both girls a sneak peek of what a slumber party is like without actually committing to the sleepover part.
The Big Night
Ask your daughter if she has a friend she’d like to invite over to stay the night—or if there’s a friend’s house where she’d like to sleep over. It’s best (and less overwhelming for everyone) to limit her first slumber party to just the two girls if possible. Talk to the friend’s parents or guardians ahead of time to discuss expectations and any particular needs either girl might have, such as food allergies or a medication that needs to be taken at bedtime.
Get your daughter involved in packing her overnight bag so she feels more ownership over the experience. Encourage her to pack a lovey from home—it’ll provide comfort if she has a moment of homesickness—and remind her that you’re only a phone call away if she needs you.
As for the actual activities, Dr. Bastiani Archibald suggests keeping it simple. “Start at dinner or even have her go over for dessert, then pick her up after breakfast the next morning,” she says. “Like all things, it’s best to leave her confident, perhaps somewhat rested, and wanting more!”
Science, technology, engineering, and math are all around us! Nearly everywhere we look, we can find examples of how STEM explains, enables, and improves our lives.
So how can you ignite your daughter‘s interest in STEM—and help her see that a future in STEM can make the world a better place?
Just look around! There are super-simple ways you can find “teachable moments” in your day-to-day life. Whether your girl is in grade school, middle school, or high school, she can have fun and learn about STEM at the same time—with your help!
Don’t sweat it. You don’t need to be an expert to introduce your girl to STEM; you just have to start the conversation…and she’ll learn the rest. Just get her thinking to spark her curiosity. And if she raises a question you can’t easily respond to, just say “good question” and find the answer together!
Here are easy activities to try, matched to her grade level:
Younger girls are natural explorers. Help her spot interesting STEM topics every day!
At this age, she’s thinking about her future and is ready to find her passion in STEM.
She’s ready to explore her independence—and STEM may be the perfect vehicle to help her find her future.
Remember, when you’re encouraging your daughter to explore STEM subjects, it’s not about having the answers—it’s about raising the questions. Help her explore and find her own answers, and she’ll be thinking like a scientist before you know it!
Think about that one friend of yours—the one you’ve known forever, who remembers your goofiest fashion moments, who’s cheered you on through every adventure (and, okay, a few misadventures), who you can go without seeing for months and pick right back up as if no time has passed at all. There’s no question you want your daughter to have the same kind of amazing friendships in her life, so do her a solid and steer her in the right social direction.
Show Her the Fun of Friendship
Your daughter probably knows several of your friends, so try telling her about how you met, whether it was in line at the grocery store or at school when you were younger. Understanding that you had to go through the whole getting-to-know-you process will give her more confidence in her own social skills—and get her excited about all the opportunities to make new friends.
Play Your Part
If your daughter is a bit shy, she might need a few hints of what to say when she meets someone new. “Come up with real-life situations she might be confronted with,” suggests Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “If they are in the lunch line together, how can she start a conversation?” Remember that the ice breakers you might use in your life (“That was a great presentation—want to grab lunch sometime?”) don’t necessarily translate to the swing-set crew! Asking about pets, commenting on the characters on the other girl’s shirt (“I like giraffes, too!”), or even a simple, “Want to play?” can open the door to new friendships.
Get Her Out There
Of course your daughter will meet other kids at school, but don’t limit her to just that group of little ones. Try signing her up for activities at the library, for the neighborhood soccer team, or finding a local Girl Scouts troop for her to join. “Introduce her to a host of different activities,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Not only is it a great way to try new things, but it can help your daughter form friendships with children who share her interests.”
Make it Easy for Her
Believe it or not, your behavior can have a big impact on your daughter’s budding social life. By being a good listener and supporter to the friends in your life (and explaining why those are great qualities in a friend), she’ll be set up to be a superstar buddy. And finally? Try to get to playdates, troop meetings, and other activities on time. Yes, traffic is bad. Yes, you had to finish that one email before you could get out the door. But when you’re late to a social activity, your daughter might miss out on introductions and feel uncomfortable reaching out on her own.
Being reserved or even shy shouldn’t stop your girl from having a super fun social life! If she’s having trouble making friends, suggest some of these oh-so-simple ice breakers that will help her meet new kids and hopefully form lifelong friendships!
Having to make new friends might be intimidating to your child, so go over these ideas and see if she can come up with more on her own. Of course, not every person your girl wants to be friends with will feel the same way, and that's OK, but the more she puts herself out there and connects with other kids, the more opportunities she'll have to grow her social circle.
There’s no question that you want to prepare your girl to succeed in the world. And in today’s tech-driven times of smart TVs, robotic vacuums, and self-checkouts at the supermarket, raising your daughter to be a digital leader is definitely a smart move. But what that means, and what you need to do to instill digital leadership in your girl, may be far different than you think.
What does digital leadership even look like?
Spoiler alert: logging hours on Instagram or Minecraft—although fun—isn't going to transform anyone into the next Silicon Valley whiz kid. Why? Because being comfortable using the latest technology is only one part of digital leadership. Surveys of CEOs and hiring managers have revealed that simply being able to code or operate emerging technology doesn’t open the doors it used to. Instead of simply focusing on what a person knows about tech, companies are looking for people who are digital leaders in a more far-reaching, deep way. These people not only understand the digital world but also use their knowledge to make advancements and improvements to society. Today’s digital leaders need to innovate and think critically and creatively, adapt to a quickly changing world, connect and collaborate across teams, and have the confidence to inspire others.
Could your girl be a digital leader?
Believe it or not, there’s a chance that your girl is already well on her way to becoming a digital leader! A recent study by the Girl Scout Research Institute showed that girls are actually ahead of boys when it comes to digital leadership by using technology to benefit themselves, their communities, and their worlds by creating, connecting, and innovating. Unfortunately, where they’re coming up short is in the confidence department. “Parents tend to be more cautious and hand-hold girls in the digital world while giving sons more freedom to explore and learn new technologies on their own,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Having adults step in to ‘help’ all the time can make girls question their abilities and can, in many cases, even hamper digital interest and learning.”
Three easy ways to help her be a digital leader
If you’re sold on the importance of digital leadership but feeling a little intimidated when it comes to helping your girl develop it, you’re not alone. “The level of technology, and the access to it, is so different for this generation than it was even 20 years ago,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “A lot of parents and grandparents might feel out of their comfort zone when it comes to encouraging digital leadership in their girls, but the great news is that no one has to be a tech genius to raise one.” Try these tips and watch your girl flourish!
Do you know how some say it’s a man’s world? Well, when it comes to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, where women make up less than a quarter of the workforce, that’s still the case. And considering roughly 80 percent of mid-level jobs—including jobs that don’t require a college degree—involve STEM skills, we need to catch girls up, quickly.
What can you do about it? Raise your daughter to be a STEMinist!
What does it mean to be a STEMinist, though? “Not every girl is going to want to pursue a career in STEM, and it’s important to encourage her to follow her own passions,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but every girl should be encouraged to try her hand at STEM skills, get comfortable with those concepts, and learn how they apply to all kinds of surprising fields—from fashion to finance, and beyond.”
Not sure how to get her started on a STEMinist track? Follow these three steps.
What comes at the end of the least-typical summer ever? You guessed it: the strangest and, for many, the most difficult start to a school year they can remember.
Parents are pulled in many directions—remaining focused on a full-time job that doesn’t look quite like it used to or looking for new opportunities while also working to keep their loved ones safe and healthy. On top of all that, managing the logistics of a new daily routine and kids’ distance learning from home (hello again, pre-algebra!) can leave you stressed and exhausted.
Meanwhile, contemplating sending kids back into the classroom, whether full-time or a day or two each week, where social distancing and other safety precautions can’t guarantee complete protection against the virus’s spread between children, teachers, and administrative staff is complicated, too.
But it’s not just grownups who’ve got complicated emotions about this school year. Your girl is also likely having major back-to-school feelings. Before the pandemic, school was where she spent most of her time. It’s a world she knows and is probably eager to get back to. She misses hanging with her friends, sharing snacks at recess, playing team sports, and so much more. Plus, let’s face it, a change of scenery might be nice after spending so much time at home.
Sadly though, even if she’s able to return to her classroom this fall, many students won’t have the option at all or won’t be back full-time or in the same way they’re used to (she’ll likely need to remain masked and socially distanced from friends and teachers). Most of the things she misses most about physically being in school simply aren’t completely safe right now. Add in the fear of contracting COVID-19 at school, and well, let’s just say there could be a lot going on in her head right now.
There are no easy solutions, and of course certain schooling strategies will work better for some families than others. But there is one fairly simple thing all families can do to help their kids through this tricky time: ask them how they’re feeling about school starting.
No matter what your girl’s answer is—and whether or not it matches how you’re feeling—hear her out and really listen to what she has to say. Perhaps her best friend is going to be attending school in person, but you’ve decided your family will be safer if your girl attends school virtually from home. Or perhaps she’s afraid of going back to the classroom, but you have to work outside the home and need to make sure she’s supervised during the day. Maybe your school district isn’t doing in-person learning at all, and you’ll just have to adjust to what’s offered.
Bottom line? These decisions, transitions, and adjustments will surely have a big influence on your life for the foreseeable future, but it’s the children who will be affected the most, even though it’s beyond their control.
So take a pause from the more grown-up conversations about logistics and local politics, and center some time on your girl’s state of mind. Knowing that her emotions are important to you and that her feelings are valid (even if you don’t agree) will go a long way to keep the peace during these difficult weeks. Not to mention open the door to bigger conversations about the decisions you’ve been making to keep your family safe.
Remember preparing for Back-to-School night when you were a kid? You’d want to make sure the art project you felt most proud of was displayed, and that maybe that diorama you stayed up late to glue together would sit proudly on your desk for all to admire. The truth is, though, that it’s not just teachers and students who need to prepare for Back-to-School night—parents should be getting ready, too!
Follow these simple tips from Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald and you’ll be handling Back-to-School night like a boss.
Meeting your girl’s teacher is a big deal—your girl will be spending a lot of time with this person, and what they say will make a big impact on her in the months, and possibly even years, to come.
But this year’s teacher isn’t the only person you should get to know during the school year. You know how they say it takes a village to raise a child? Turns out, it takes a whole school of caring adults to support your girl, and the more of them you know, the more you and she can benefit from the year ahead!
Here’s your guide to the six people you might want to win over in the next few weeks.
When it comes to the lunchroom, most schools’ rules are pretty much the same—stay in line, no soda or candy, and definitely no food fights. But some schools have had to implement a new rule this year, one that’s causing controversy and ringing a few alarm bells: no parents in the lunchroom.
Some dads and moms say they’re just following suggestions to be more involved at school and don’t understand why this opportunity for quality time with their kids has been taken away from them. But the truth is, although parents may have the best intentions, their presence in the lunchroom can actually be detrimental to their child’s development.
“This is a classic example of what we call ‘Velcro parenting,’ where adult family members feel the need to be constantly attached to their children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Parents may think joining their child for lunch is a great bonding opportunity, but the underlying motivations can include wanting their child to consider them more as a friend than an authority figure, hoping to secure their child’s social status in school by bringing in special food or treats for other kids, and even wanting to be present to help their child avoid anything that could go wrong socially at the lunch hour.”
All of these inclinations come from a loving place, says Dr. Bastiani Archibald, but what none of them take into account is just how valuable and enriching the lunch hour is as a parent-free zone—and what their child could be missing out on when they inject themselves into that space. Schools are engineered with learning in mind, both in the classroom and (believe it or not) in the lunchroom.
The cafeteria is a microcosm of the real world, where your girl can test her independence, explore her personality, learn about others, and navigate the social landscape. “Sometimes she’ll be successful, and sometimes she won’t,” Dr. Bastiani Archibald says, “But if her parent is there, watching her every interaction, or even keeping her separate from the larger group, she’s missing out on rich opportunities to grow.”
Plus, parental presence can ostracize your girl from other kids, weaken her confidence in her own abilities, and put the brakes on her path to maturity and independence.
So what’s a recently banned lunch-buddy parent to do? “Instead of being by your girl’s side at the lunch table, make sure you’re asking about what goes on at lunch hour,” advises Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Find out who she’s sitting with, who sits alone, who makes the funniest jokes, what everyone’s talking about, and what her favorite game to play is. Go beyond asking about homework and really get to know about her friends, the fun she’s having, and even the drama on the playground.”
Listening to her responses, seeing how she interprets different events, and learning how she dealt with different situations will give you a window into her world like no other. Seeing the lunchroom for yourself is one thing, but nothing will bring you closer or help you understand her more than seeing it through her eyes.
Sharing and generosity are obviously traits we’d all like our children to have, but they’re going to be extra important as your daughter starts kindergarten. From playground equipment at recess to books at storytime and even the teacher’s attention—nearly everything in the kindergarten environment is set up to be shared among the students.
Having a firm grasp on why it’s important (and can be fun!) to share before the first day of school will help her avoid hurt feelings and will likely even help her make friends. Here are some ways you can help her shine at sharing in the kindergarten classroom:
Sharing is a learned ability, but one that can help your daughter excel as she starts school. Encouraging this type of kindness from a very early age will help her form healthy friendships, develop empathy, and even gain a sense of all the good she can do in the world.
Summer’s over, which means school days are back. But how is your girl feeling? Is she feeling super excited to see her friends (in person or virtually) and explore new subjects, or is she feeling pretty nervous about new teachers, starting at a new school, or even facing kids who weren’t so nice to her last year? Maybe a combination of all of the above?
Before you answer, think about this: Have you really asked her?
“It’s important to find out from your child what she is most excited about for the upcoming school year and what she’s maybe nervous or worried about,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Both positive and negative feelings are totally normal and should be discussed.” Girls are often conditioned to believe they’re supposed to be positive, happy, and smiling all the time—that “bad” feelings should be pushed away or glossed over. But the truth is, you need to feel and acknowledge those bad feelings to work through them. Ignoring them or brushing them off often only makes them worse—and turning a blind eye to your daughter’s nervousness can have even bigger consequences.
“If you avoid talking about things that seem negative, she might think you’re only open to discussing things that are positive—and that it’s disappointing to you for her to feel unhappy,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “That could mean she won’t bring those issues and struggles to you in the future, when she really does need your support.” So instead of telling her she’s silly to be worried, legitimize her feelings and let her know that there are some things in your life that have made you nervous, too.
And once you do know your girl’s back-to-school insecurities? Figure out a game plan to work through them together. Try doing a dry run of the walk or drive to school if she'll be attending in person, or even see if you can visit the school a week before classes begin to walk around campus and see where her classroom might be. If she’s starting at a new school, reach out to local parents’ groups and see if you can set up a meeting (virtual or otherwise) between your girl and another member’s daughter so she knows at least one person on her first day.
Going back to school is a big time of transition—perhaps now more than ever—and your girl needs to know she’s got you in her corner. “After you’ve brainstormed ways to solve your girl’s anxieties, make sure to check in with her at the end of the first week of school and then again in a few week’s time,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “It’ll show her you take her feelings seriously and help keep the conversation open just in case new issues come up.”
Despite what movies and sitcoms have shown us, being the new girl at school doesn’t have to be filled with drama. The truth is that it’s an awesome opportunity for your daughter to expand her friend base, try new activities, and generally have a fresh start. Walk her through these five tips to help her rule the school.
You've likely heard the laundry list of skills and experiences your daughter could benefit from having outside the classroom. Many of those suggestions are solid and will help her academically (she will be better off if she reads at home!), but there’s one majorly important experience that often gets left off these lists: Playtime.
We’re not talking structured playtime directed by adults or games with pre-determined rules. Quite the opposite! The type of playtime that your girl might most benefit from is independent, self-directed, and generally free of structure. “Studies show that play allows the neurons in a child’s brain to form new connections—and that this rewiring helps boost emotional intelligence, decision making skills, creativity and problem solving abilities,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. Beyond enhancing your child’s brain development, play will also help your daughter stretch her imagination, improve her physical dexterity, experiment with negotiation, and help her discover new interests and talents. Every one of these things will give her a leg up in kindergarten and beyond.
There’s a lot of pressure to be a super hands-on parent, so it can be hard to step back and let her decide what she wants to play and how it’s going to work, either by herself or with other children on play dates or at the local park. Similarly, many children who are used to a parent’s involvement in almost everything they do may be reticent to play without a loving adult at their side. Still, a bit of awkwardness adjusting to this new way of play will pay off in the end when you see your girl becoming more independent and self-motivated. Follow these tips to ensure your daughter gets powered up by playtime:
“In a society that’s so focused on test scores and aptitude tests, it’s easy for playtime to get lost in the shuffle,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “But this joyful and vital part of childhood is actually the most effective and meaningful way for your daughter to learn—so let the fun begin!”
Your little one officially joins the big leagues on her first day in kindergarten—and as her parent, you can set her up for major success. Follow these simple tips from Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald to give her a strong start to the school year.
It’s no secret that reading to your child starting at a very young age is a good thing to do. Storytime is an excellent way to bond, it’ll boost her vocabulary, plus, who doesn’t want to raise a book-lover? But the benefits of reading to your kids actually go far beyond what you might think. Here are three more ways storytime will benefit your girl as she gets ready to start school.
1. Stretch Her Attention Span
Little ones are often all over the place—wanting to color one minute and then deciding on a dime to play pretend kitchen instead! But the ability to sit quietly, to pay attention to new information or directions, and to listen to her teacher will serve your daughter well as she enters a classroom environment. “As your girl gets closer to school-age, try reading slightly longer books together,” says Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Keeping her engaged in a story that takes a little longer to read will develop her patience and focus, both of which will come in handy as a new student.”
2. Boost Her Emotional Intelligence
When your child starts school, she’ll meet all kinds of new people with diverse personalities, interests, backgrounds and experiences. One way you can help prepare her to thrive is to read books with her that focus on making new friends, sharing, and working together as a group. “Discussing characters’ actions and emotions as you go through stories together will give your girl a window into the experiences and perspectives of others, and help her see differences as positive and exciting,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Additionally, it will give you a chance to help her identify and discuss feelings that she might not have previously had the language to express. All of this will help her form healthy and productive friendships with her new classmates.”
3. Flex Her Imagination
Most children’s books have plenty of drawings or photographs to look at while you read, but unless you’re watching a full-on video of a story, your daughter will have to use her imagination to picture every event and action as they play out. “This kind of abstract thought process will help with what we like to call ‘possibility thinking,’ which is an expansive specific kind of problem-solving,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Kindergarten is a wonderful time for her creativity to grow and shine, and giving her a head start in that direction is always a good thing!"
If the very thought of her first day of kindergarten makes you a little nervous (or a little teary-eyed) you’re not alone. This is a major transition! Even if your daughter has already attended preschool or another pre-k program, the instruction she’s about to begin will tend to be a bit more formal and often has more hours of instruction during the day. Kindergarten is kind of a big kid thing—which can be hard for both your child and you to adjust to.
To really set your soon-to-be kindergartener up for success, you’re going to have to check your anxiety at the door. That’s right, we said your anxiety. The thing is, children, especially very young ones, take emotional cues from their parents—and they can read anxiety clearer than anything. If you’re positive, optimistic, and excited for all the experiences your daughter will have when she starts school, chances are, she’ll approach her first day with the same sunny outlook. Meanwhile, if you tell her not to worry, or that it won’t be so scary before she even hints that she’s feeling apprehension—she’ll wonder what there is she should worry about or be frightened by. Basically, those kinds of statements put ideas into kids’ heads that they simply might not have otherwise.
Instead, try to tell your girl about activities she’ll have the opportunity to be involved in or the things she’ll have access to in kindergarten that you think she’ll like or be interested in. If she loves storytime, let her know there’s likely to be new books for her to discover in kindergarten, and that the teacher may read to the class. If she’s a natural at making friends, talk to her about all the new kids she’ll meet and get to learn with.
Listen To Her Feelings
But also ask her how she feels about starting kindergarten. Let her lead the conversation, and really listen to what she has to say. If she does express that she’s nervous, sad, or scared, take those concerns to heart and explore those feelings with your daughter. Let her know that changes to our routine can make any of us feel a little uncertain, and reassure her that you’re going to do everything you can to prepare her for this big step in her life. If it meets social distancing recommendations near you and you can do it safely, set up a playdate with another child in your neighborhood who is currently in kindergarten or in the early grades of elementary school so she can ask questions and hopefully put her worries to rest.
Give Her a Roadmap
Make sure she understands her new schedule a few weeks before school starts, so she’ll have an idea of who will drop her off in the morning and who will pick her up if she's attending school in person. If possible, take a dry-run to her new school one morning so she knows exactly where you’ll be taking her, and where she’ll be spending her morning and afternoon. And if your girl will be distance-learning, set up a special place in your home where she'll have school time each day, and make sure she's comfortable with whichever devices she may be using.
Keep Goodbyes Quick
On the big day, if you're walking her into school to meet her teacher, say a quick goodbye, and then—even if it’s hard for you, and it may be!—resist the urge to linger. Sticking around might seem like it would be helpful, especially if your girl is crying or seems afraid, but it can actually prolongs your daughter’s anxiety and make the buildup to you leaving even more upsetting. Instead, tell her how proud you are of her, give her a kiss, and get on your way. Your child’s teacher can take it from there, helping her to get accustomed to her new environment and find joy in her new activities and friends. And if she's learning at home? Make sure she knows you're there to help if she really needs it, but resist the urge to sit in on the virtual classroom unless her teacher asks you to. Of course, it's tempting to be a part of the songs and learning from start to finish, but giving her some space (even if she says she doesn't want it!) will go a long way in helping her become an independent, resilient student.
We’ve all seen the commercial. Mom and kids walking peacefully down the perfectly-stocked and tidy aisles of their local big-box store, dropping boxes of pencils and notebooks gingerly into the cart. Looks like a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, right? Well, maybe not.
For most parents, preparing to send their kids back to school can be pretty stressful. School supplies and back-to-school clothes can get expensive, earlier wake-up times can be hard to get used to, and keeping track of all those orientations and open house nights can be a bit of a bear.
While we can’t ever promise a Pinterest-perfect back-to-school season (show us a “perfect” family, and we’ll show you the Loch Ness Monster), but we can make this annual transition a tiny bit easier on you and the whole family. Borrow these simple tips from Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, and make the start of this school year your family’s best yet.
Think back to your own school days. Whether you felt excited or nervous or just couldn’t wait to show your friends the new moves you learned at basketball camp—you wanted to be sure you were prepared for that first day back in the classroom. And while today’s back-to-school shopping lists might be more tech-focused than they were in your youth, much remains the same. Pocket folders are still adorned with kittens, unicorns, and super heroes (no shame in picking up one for yourself while you’re hitting the school supply aisles—they can hold grown up stuff like tax documents, too…) and that fresh crayon smell is just as you’ve always remembered it. Ah, nostalgia.
But beyond pencils, paper, and glue sticks, there are a few back-to-school essentials you won’t find at your local big-box store, and that you can’t even order online. Girl Scouts’ Developmental Psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald recommends adding these vital things to your girl’s back-to-school checklist:
Pencils, backpacks, and school buses. New friends, new teachers, and a brand new schedule to learn. Starting school brings a lot of change for both you and your girl. But there are a few simple things you can do to help her walk through doors that first day not only ready to learn—but to go in with a big smile and a sense of confidence.
Here are 5 ways to prepare her for a happy, safe, and fun start to her first school year:
The joy of a sunny summer vacation is hard to beat—but if you’re like many parents, you might be worried about your daughter falling back academically while school’s out. But believe it or not, there are easy (and fun!) ways that your daughter can not only stay on track, but also learn even more before the start of the next school year. Follow these tips and watch her soar!
There’s no rule that says learning can only happen in a classroom! Let her curiosity, imagination, and passions lead the way, and she’s sure to have a summer full of enriching, educational moments.
Although grades aren’t everything in life, succeeding in school can boost your girl’s self-esteem and set her up for a bright future filled with accomplishments and fulfillment. For these reasons and others, it’s only natural to hope that your girl does well in school and to feel some disappointment when she's struggling.
But while many people think kids who get low grades are either not-so-smart or lazy, there are many reasons why your smart girl might be getting lower grades than you’d expect—and they have nothing to do with her intelligence or lack thereof! Here, Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald lists some of the many factors that can affect her performance in the classroom, and that you can help her push past!
Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has turned the world as we know it upside down, to say the least. Millions of families are trying to keep the learning alive at home amid virus-related school closures—even while they attempt to adjust to their own new work-from-home realities, stock up on household essentials, and do everything in their power to keep their loved ones healthy. Frankly? It’s a lot.
The good news is that even though you’re social distancing (staying in when possible and keeping at least six feet away from those not in your household), you’re absolutely not alone in this struggle. We talked to a few teachers who’ve been there, done that, and they had some amazingly practical advice for how everyday families can get through this difficult time.
Put Family and Feelings First
These are trying times at best, and the fact is, not all families can make schooling their immediate priority. “Keeping your sanity right now and making sure your children are fed and healthy is, honestly, the first thing you should be focused on right now,” says Dr. Cyndy Karras, an Austin-based developmental psychologist and veteran teacher. Academics are, of course, important, she says, “but these are unprecedented times, and it’s OK to just pause and take a beat to get your family’s mental health on track, if that’s what’s needed. Once you’ve got the social-emotional part under control, the academics and learning will follow.” And if every single item on your girl’s school checklist doesn’t get accomplished while she’s learning from home? So be it. “Her academic future is not going to be damaged by this time away from a traditional classroom. Just take a deep breath and do the best you can.”
Give Kids a Choice and a Voice
Sarah Scheldt, a Brooklyn-based parenting coach and veteran elementary school teacher, says it’s important to include your girl when you’re coming up with solutions to new challenges in your family. “Bring your household together to write up a family plan that everyone can agree on—maybe you’ll say the kids will focus on homework packets or read during certain times of the day, and other blocks of time they can choose from a variety of fun activities you come up with together,” she suggests. “These are complicated times, and it’s OK to tell your kids that you need their help and their ideas. Talk about not only what you need from them, but make sure you ask what they need from you. In fact, when you do that, you’re not just getting them to feel more ownership of the plan, you’re teaching them about responsibility, cooperation, and teamwork. Later, if they’re not following the plan, you can revisit what you agreed on together to help get everyone back on track.”
You’re Not Going to Replicate the Classroom Experience, and That’s OK
If your girl’s school is offering online classes, that’s great, and she should participate in them as much as possible, but it’s unrealistic to think kids are going to get the same experience from these as they would at school, says Melissa Abrahams, an elementary school teacher in Southern California. “It’s not helpful to pretend that everything is normal right now, because that’s not the reality, and your girl knows that. If she is having trouble focusing, give her a break to do something that doesn’t feel like school,” she says. “Watch a movie together and ask her what she thinks is going to happen to the characters next and why—that’s critical thinking, or play a board game that involves math and strategy. She’ll be learning without even thinking about it.” This teacher’s favorite non-school activity for kids being temporarily home-schooled? Keeping a diary. “There’s a lot going on right now that your girl might want to write about so she remembers it later. Plus, it’s a healthy outlet for some of the emotions she’s dealing with, and she’ll be practicing her language skills at the same time.”
Ask for Help with That Homework Packet
What happens if your girl’s teacher sent home a packet of work, but you don’t have a clue about how to help your girl with it? “Be honest with your child and let her know that you don’t know all the answers,” says Dr. Karras. “When you admit that you’re not sure how to explain something to her—but that you’re going to find out together—she’ll start to see you as a team and feel even more supported by you.” Then reach out to your social networks, friends who may have expertise in that subject, or even parents and caregivers of other students in your girl’s class. “The reason why there are so many free resources for distance learning right now is because people know these are difficult times and really want to help in whatever way they can. You are absolutely not alone.”
Keep It Bite-Sized and Kid-Friendly
If you had visions of your girl sitting at the kitchen table, studying for two or more hours at a time, Scheldt says you might be asking a bit much of her. “For kids ages six through twelve, it’s far more realistic to have them do focused work for 20 minutes at a time or so and then take a brain break with something else that’s quick and fun.” As for what your girl should be learning about beyond any formal homework, Scheldt says to let your girl decide. “If she’s into a certain TV show, movie, or book, she could use household items to make puppets of the characters and act out the story. Or if she loves a certain family recipe, you can teach her how to make it. Have her count how many eggs you’re using. Ask her why she thinks certain ingredients are needed. This is a lesson in following directions, chemistry, math, and a big dose of family traditions all rolled into one.”
Think back to when you were a kid in school. Did you dread report card day, or even try to hide your grades from your parents? Or were you psyched to show off how you’d aced that super tough class? Either way, the day those grades were given out was probably a big one emotionally—and your daughter is likely dealing with some big emotions of her own now that her grades are coming in.
Whether you like it or not, report cards are a big deal. Not because grades are the end-all-be-all measure of your child (they’re definitely not, even though they will help her get into college someday!), but because she spends the vast majority of her time at school and studying. School isn’t all there is to your daughter’s life, but it’s a big part of it, and showing interest and investing the time to discuss how she’s doing will show that you care about her and what’s going on in her world.
Talking about report cards can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, sitting down and going over her end-of-term marks can bring you closer. Let Girl Scouts’ resident Developmental Psychologist, Andrea Bastiani Archibald walk you through the big grade talk with these simple tips.
When you’re done going over your daughter’s report card, make sure
to reinforce that you love her no matter what, and that you’re on her
side and want to see her do as well as possible in all areas of her
life. And as the new term starts, keep talking about how she’s doing
in school. Ask her about her goals, her trouble spots, and even her
tiniest victories. Knowing you care means more than you might
She wants to play video games, but you’d rather she was studying her times tables? With this plan from Girl Scouts Developmental Psychologist Andrea Bastiani Archibald, you’ll both be happy—and yes, the homework will get done!
You know how there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing off items from your to-do list? Whether she realizes it or not, your daughter gets the same feeling of accomplishment from having a game plan and finishing the tasks laid out for her. “There’s so much in life that we can’t predict or control,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Daily routines help kids feel safe, while teaching them the incredibly important skill of time management.” And an after-school schedule might be the most important of all, since it’ll ensure that she finishes school work, has time for a relaxed family meal, and actually gets to sleep at a decent hour.
But it doesn’t have to be all work and no play! In fact, it’s important to recognize that just like you’ve had an intense day at work, she’s had a busy day at school and can benefit from some decompression time. Here’s how to strike a happy balance and make everyone’s evening a little easier:
Develop a plan with her, not for her
Sit down and talk to her about all the things she both wants to do and needs to do when she gets home from school. Listen to what she says and take her needs seriously. She might want time to chat with friends, watch TV, or any number of other things. Of course she can’t spend all evening doing those things, but if you put them into her schedule, she’ll see that you are hearing her and working with her, not against her.
Map it out
Let’s say she has five hours between the time she gets home and when she should start getting ready for bed. After setting aside about an hour for dinner, divide up the rest of the time between homework, chores, and a little time to relax. Hint: Want her mind to be sharp as possible for studying? Let her take a break first to recharge! “Girls are often overstimulated and tired after school,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Having some downtime and then a plan for getting homework and chores done after will reduce any worries and let her know she can fit it all in.”
Test it out
The key word here is “test!” Write out your daughter’s new schedule and post it in a central spot to make it easy for everyone to remember what was agreed on. If after a few days you realize that you allotted way more time to homework than was necessary (or not enough!) fine tune the plan going forward. And definitely be open to changes for special events or holidays. Even the most rigid schedules need flexibility now and then!
Ya sea que su niña este en vacaciones
escolares o solo es el fin de semana, es probable que su familia esta
pasando mucho mas tiempo en case de lo usual. Si ha tenido suficientes
noches de cine para programar un festival de cine completo y tiene
hambre de algo (¡cualquier cosa!) diferente, lo escuchamos.
Hay muchos consejos sobre cómo superar todo ese tiempo extra en casa, pero más allá de solo superarlos, queremos que supere los desafíos sonriendo, con un montón de nuevos recuerdos y experiencias divertidas. Aquí le ofrecemos ideas para hacerlo posible.
Cree un kit de diversión
Si está trabajando y necesita concentrarse en los plazos y las reuniones, necesitará que su niña tome la iniciativa y cree su propia diversión de vez en cuando. Facilítaselo preparando una caja o una bolsa grande llena de materiales que puedan despertar su imaginación o que pueda usar para proyectos específicos que ella puede hacer por su cuenta. Por ejemplo, puede incluir elementos individuales, como tiza para aceras, burbujas, una cuerda para saltar y una lupa, pero también puede incluir un kit de marionetas de calcetines (marcadores, hilo, pegamento, botones de repuesto si los tiene, y algunos viejos calcetines blancos), todo en su propia bolsa.
Comience un club de lectura
Si a su niña y sus amigas les encanta leer, coordine con otros padres y haga que todas las niñas lean el mismo libro. Cuando terminen de leerlo, organice una fecha de juego especial a través del video chat donde las niñas se puedan disfrazar como sus personajes favoritos y compartir el arte que han hecho de sus escenas favoritas. También vale la pena comunicarse con la autora del libro para ver si estaría interesada en ir a la reunión de las niñas para saludarlas y responder cualquier pregunta que tengan. Es posible que no obtenga un sí, ¡pero definitivamente no lo hará si no lo intenta!
Elija un tema para cada semana
Haga que sus hijos ayuden a elegir temas divertidos para cada semana, y luego pídale a su hija que sugiera formas de incorporar el tema en las comidas, actividades e incluso en las películas que puede ver por las noches. Lo más importante de esta idea es dejar que su niña tome la iniciativa. Si está ocupada haciendo carteles para pasar el rato en su casa o decorando galletas de azúcar con bigotes para la "semana del gato,” ella se sentirá más en control y entusiasmada con estos proyectos. De esta manera, es menos probable que su niña se queje de que está aburrida mientras usted está en una conferencia telefónica importante.
Vea la naturaleza a través de sus ojos
Ya sea que tenga acceso a un parque local, a su patio, o incluso a un árbol o dos en su calle, dele una pequeña libreta y haga que la llene con dibujos, notas o incluso poemas sobre lo que ve afuera. ¿Qué colores nota? ¿Hay pájaros o ardillas alrededor? ¿Qué pasa con las personas y las mascotas? ¿Ella nota algún insecto? ¿A qué huele el aire? ¿Cómo se ven las cosas de cerca y como se ven de lejos?
Aprendan una rutina de baile juntos
Haga que su niña elija un video musical que le guste y luego aprendan la rutina de baile en familia. ¿A quién le importa si se ven un poco tontos o no pueden hacer todos los movimientos a la perfección? Ese no es el punto. Esta actividad hará que todos se muevan, lo que puede mejorar su estado de ánimo. También puede mejorar el sueño y hacerlos reír, lo que nunca es malo. Cuando finalmente se hayan memorizado toda la rutina y puedan hacerlo de principio a fin, realicen un video bailando. No es necesario compartir el video en las redes sociales a menos que todos estén de acuerdo en que es una buena idea (¡y definitivamente no lo comparta si alguien no se siente bien al respecto!), pero de todas maneras, estará muy contento de tenerlo como un dulce recuerdo familiar para disfrutar en el futuro.
Intercambie las pantallas por un helado
Es probable que, últimamente, su familia ha estado pasando más tiempo al frente de las pantallas que nunca. Deles un descanso a sus ojos intercambiando sus teléfonos, tabletas, computadoras portátiles e incluso la televisión por un helado una vez por semana. Es posible que escuche un gruñido o dos al principio cuando sus hijos (¡o incluso su pareja!) escuchen que está reservando algo de tiempo sin pantallas, pero una vez que se den cuenta que viene con el beneficio de una gran bola de helado, dudamos que escuche muchas quejas.
No hay duda de que el mundo nos ha arrojado algunos limones este año. Sin embargo, por el bien de nuestros hijos y nuestra propia cordura, es hora de que comencemos a hacer un poco de limonada con esos limones. Le sorprenderá lo dulce que es.
Muchas cosas están muy difíciles en estos días, y muchos de nosotros estamos sintiendo el estrés. Más allá de hacer todo lo que esté a su alcance para mantener saludables a sus seres queridos, hay tantas cosas del día a día que pueden salir mal en cualquier momento. Por ejemplo, si su hijo tiene una crisis mientras usted está en una llamada o conferencia importante (naturalmente, haciéndolo sentir como el padre del año) o la bodega todavía no tiene las pocas cosas que realmente le gustan a su quisquilloso, nada de eso es fácil. Cuando usted está acostumbrado a manejar muchas prioridades bastante bien, es fácil sentirse enojado consigo mismo cuando las cosas no van bien.
Pare eso ahora mismo.
La cosa es así: estamos lidiando con una realidad totalmente diferente en este momento—una que aún sigue cambiando cada semana— y cuando uno se encuentra en un terreno nuevo, los estándares del éxito tienen que cambiar. Todos estamos aprendiendo cómo vivir la vida de una manera radicalmente diferente, por lo que esperar que usted administre sin problemas un presupuesto, sea un padre ejemplar, un buen amigo, un miembro de la comunidad y además mantenga un hogar impecable en este momento, es poco realista.
Lo mejor que cualquiera de nosotros puede hacer en este momento es, bueno, lo mejor que podamos. Algunos días pueden parecer diferentes de otros días. Tal vez ha perdido a un ser querido o un amigo de la familia. O su hija tiene pesadillas y lo mantiene despierto toda la noche cuando tiene que trabajar por la mañana. Quizás todavía esté tratando de obtener beneficios de desempleo y operar bajo un presupuesto mucho más pequeño. Quizás ninguna de esas cosas ha sucedido, pero las noticias del mundo simplemente le hacen sentir realmente deprimido. Es entendible y perfectamente normal no estar manejando las cosas a toda velocidad en este momento.
Así que sea amable consigo mismo. En lugar de concentrarse en los platos en el fregadero o en el Monte Everest de ropa sucia, deténgase y tómese un minuto para felicitarse por cada cosa pequeña que está haciendo bien. ¿Todos en su familia fueron alimentados hoy? ¡Es una victoria! ¿Su niña aprendió algo (ya sea multiplicación o cómo preparar el postre favorito de su abuelita)? ¡Esas son cosas increíbles! Hubo una risa genuina en su hogar, ¿o al menos no hubo peleas entre hermanos? ¡Hay éxito por todas partes!
Los actos cotidianos se han convertido en hazañas sobrehumanas para muchos de nosotros. Y es posible que no se dé cuenta, pero con solo poner un pie delante del otro y hacer lo mejor que puede, le está mostrando a su niña lo que significa ser ingenioso, valiente y como tener esperanza cuando nos enfrentamos con un desafío. ¡Eso se llama ser un padre impresionante!
Por lo tanto, si puede dejar que los platos se remojen durante la noche mientras se sumerge en un baño de burbujas, hágalo. Se merece un descanso y un gran aplauso solo por ser USTED.
Últimamente parece que las noticias son cada vez más terribles. Con los eventos en persona pospuestos indefinidamente, las temporadas deportivas canceladas, las cortinas cerradas en las obras escolares y los recitales de baile, y muchas escuelas cerradas por el resto del año escolar, algunos podrían tener ganas de cancelar todas las celebraciones, incluyendo las que marcan hitos y logros personales. Pero en cierto modo, se necesitan celebraciones ahora más que nunca para levantar el ánimo de los niños y darles la esperanza de un mañana más brillante.
Cuando nos tomamos el tiempo para concentrarnos en la familia, la amistad, el amor y los logros, e incluso cuando no podemos estar juntos de todas las formas que nos gustaría, o no podemos celebrar con las mismas actividades que podríamos haber planeado; le estamos mostrando a nuestros hijos cómo divertirse y disfrutar de los simples placeres de la vida. Así que no solo está creando recuerdos especiales con su niña, sino que también le está enseñando habilidades para la vida que la ayudarán a superar los altibajos en los años que vienen.
Aquí hay algunas ideas para ayudarlo a entrar en el espíritu festivo, ya sea para el cumpleaños de su hija o el suyo, una graduación o un aniversario.
Salga de la ciudad (incluso cuando no pueda)
Con un poco de imaginación y la ayuda de una impresora o algunos materiales de arte simples, usted y su familia pueden transformar su hogar en casi cualquier lugar donde deseen celebrar su fiesta. ¿Le gustaría poder estar en el parque temático favorito de su niña? Publique fotos de sus personajes favoritos en la casa, prepare comida como la de los parques de diversiones y reproduzca música o películas que vayan con el tema. ¿Esperaba visitar otro país para su celebración? Use papel de construcción o corte cajas viejas para crear versiones en miniatura de lugares famosos (piense en la Torre Eiffel, el Taj Mahal, etc.), pruebe una receta de esa parte del mundo y practique algunas frases en el idioma que se habla allí si aún no lo domina.
Ayúdela a hallar el cariño de sus seres queridos en casa
Si su niña celebra un logro muy importante mientras está en casa, pida a sus amigos y familiares que le escriban tarjetas y cartas y se las envíen por adelantado. Luego, la noche antes de su gran día, escóndalos en la casa y dele un "mapa del tesoro" en la mañana que la ayude a encontrar todos los mensajes de amor y apoyo. Es una forma especial de incluir seres queridos fuera de su hogar, y las notas y tarjetas serán un recuerdo maravilloso que ella recordará para siempre.
Organice un juego de búsqueda de fotos
Haga que todos salgan y genere una competencia saludable a la misma vez. Haga una lista de 10-20 cosas que podría ver en cualquier paseo por el vecindario (como un automóvil azul, una paloma, una boca de incendios, etc.), y luego envíe la lista a algunas otras familias, desafiándolos a una búsqueda del tesoro. Todos darán un paseo por sus vecindarios al mismo tiempo, y quien envíe fotos de los artículos de la lista al grupo primero gana el reto.
Difunda la buena voluntad
Si sus amigos y seres queridos tienen los medios, puede considerar pedirles que celebren con usted donando a una causa que sea importante para usted o su niña. Pero el dinero no es la única forma de marcar la diferencia. Puede sugerirles que le escriban o llamen a los funcionarios del gobierno en apoyo de esa misma causa, lo cual es una forma poderosa y gratuita de unirse a la causa y celebrar un gran día.
¿Podemos hablar un minuto sobre esas antiguas caricaturas donde las princesas hermosas (generalmente antes de que sepan que son princesas) sonríen de oreja a oreja y cantan mientras barren, trapean y lavan los platos? Mientras no sabemos lo que pasa en su familia, estamos bastante seguros de que fregar la olla de pasta no es una idea de diversión para nadie.
Sin embargo, las tareas domésticas deben realizarse y el hecho de que su niña le ayude es importante de varias maneras. Además de ir más rápido cuando hay más manos para ayudar, asumir algunas tareas regulares en la casa le enseña a su hija la responsabilidad y el trabajo en equipo y le da las habilidades que necesitará cuando crezca y viva por su cuenta. ¡No quiere que ella sea esa niña despistada en los dormitorios que no sabe cómo usar una lavadora!
Y, sin embargo, las tareas, cuando se dividen sin pensar mucho, pueden reforzar los estereotipos de género y enviar el mensaje equivocado a los niños sobre qué trabajo es para las niñas y cuál para los niños. Entonces, no son solo esas princesas de dibujos animados y sus acciones felices en tareas de la casa las que imponen estereotipos obsoletos, ¡usted también puede estar haciéndolo en su propia casa sin darse cuenta!
"En muchas familias, las responsabilidades de las niñas se limitan a cosas como poner la mesa y lavar los platos, mientras que se espera que los niños se encarguen de las tareas físicas, como cortar el césped o sacar la basura,” dice la psicóloga de desarollo de Girl Scouts, la Dra. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. “Esto no solo envía un mensaje equivocado a los niños y las niñas sobre lo que son capaces de hacer y cómo se ven los roles apropiados para ellos, sino que también los hace menos propensos a realizar ciertos tipos de tareas más adelante en la vida.”
Además de eso, los tipos de tareas que se asignan con mayor frecuencia a las niñas a menudo requieren más tiempo que las que se les da a los niños (llevar la basura afuera toma unos segundos, mientras que descargar el lavaplatos y guardar todo toma un poco más tiempo). Un estudio encontró que las niñas pasan, en promedio, un 30 por ciento más de tiempo en las tareas domésticas que sus equivalentes masculinos, lo que significa que las niñas tienen menos tiempo para jugar, estudiar y buscar otros intereses que sus hermanos. ¡Esto no está bien!
Otro estudio mostró algo igual (si no más) de alarmante: las niñas, en promedio, ganan menos dinero en el dinero mensual o semanal que les dan sus padres, aunque pasan más tiempo en las tareas que sus equivalentes masculinos. La brecha salarial comienza temprano, amigos.
Por lo tanto, tomarse un tiempo adicional para asegurarse de que las responsabilidades domésticas no se reparten en función de los estereotipos de género subconscientes, y que cualquier sistema de asignación que haya establecido sea justo entre hijas e hijos, esto ayudará a que sus hijos vean que tanto los niños como las niñas pueden asumir cualquier tipo de trabajo y les brindará un conjunto completo de habilidades para ayudarles a tener éxito en la vida.
¿Cómo empezar? Haga una lista de todas las tareas agradables para los niños que deben realizarse durante el mes. Dependiendo de la edad de sus hijos, esto podría incluir rastrillar las hojas, aspirar las alfombras, limpiar la caja de arena del gato o incluso revisar el aceite del auto de la familia. Luego, rote las tareas semana a semana entre los miembros de la familia. De esta manera, nadie se ocupa en hacer un trabajo en particular que no les gusta semana tras semana, y tampoco ningún trabajo se considerará que tenga género alguno.
Cada vez que vemos una injusticia, tenemos la responsabilidad de enfrentarla. Todos los días, sin importar nuestros orígenes o nuestra edad, cada uno de nosotros tiene un papel que desempeñar en afrontar un sistema injusto mientras trabajamos para construir uno nuevo que realmente funcione para todos. Guiar a nuestras niñas a aprender a reconocer y desafiar las estructuras y prácticas que alimentan la desigualdad y causan daño les ayuda a desempeñar un papel activo en la creación del cambio positivo que nuestra sociedad necesita.
Mientras deberíamos tener conversaciones acerca de la raza y el racismo regularmente en nuestros hogares, consultar con su niña es especialmente crucial cuando la violencia racista cobra vidas y provoca protestas, dolor y disturbios en todo el país. Los niños de todas las edades, orígenes y tonos de piel están sintiendo una variedad de emociones en respuesta a todo lo que está sucediendo. Están tristes, asustados, enojados y confundidos.
¿Cuál es la cosa número uno que puede ayudar a su niña a procesar estos sentimientos? Hablando con un adulto en cuál ella confía y ama, como usted, y luego trabajando juntos para encontrar formas de tomar medidas positivas.
Puede ser tentador evitar por completo el tema de la raza y el racismo, especialmente para aquellos a quienes se les enseñó que es un tema que no se discute, pero las estadísticas muestran que los sistemas de justicia, salud y educación no son justos y pueden afectar negativamente la vida de una niña a un nivel fundamental. Su familia, educación, seguridad y bienestar hacen que estas conversaciones sean absolutamente necesarias para quienes apoyan un mundo justo y equitativo para todas las niñas.
Reconocemos que, en nuestras culturas latinas, el tema de la raza y el colorismo (juzgar a las personas por el color de su piel; frecuentemente tratando mejor a esas personas con tonos de piel más claros) es un tema que se complica enormemente por la gran diversidad que existe entre las diferentes culturas dentro de la comunidad hispana. También reconocemos que desafortunadamente existe mucho racismo entre los Latinos; es otro tema que no podemos ignorar y debemos de confrontar, junto a nuestros hijos y familias, para formar un futuro mejor para todos. Además, es importante hablar sobre los orígenes de su familia con sus hijos a medida que forman su identidad y aprenden a enorgullecerse de quiénes son y de dónde vienen.
En los ejemplos que siguen, por favor fíjese que el uso de “blanco” y “negro” puede significar algo diferente para todos, dependiendo de la raza con que usted se identifique como Latino. Mas que nada, cuando usamos el término “blanco” nos referimos a personas caucásicas o esas que el mundo asume ser caucásica debido al color de su piel u otras características, aunque no lo sean.
Tener conversaciones honestas sobre la raza es importante para todas las familias, y es vital tenerlas regularmente, incluso si le resulta incómodo o si cree que sus hijos ya saben sobre el racismo y saben diferenciar lo correcto de lo incorrecto. Sin embargo, aunque conversar sobre el tema es excelente, es solo una parte del trabajo que es necesario para mejorar nuestro mundo y defender la igualdad. También es importante observar cómo se estructura la vida de su niña todos los días y como ella la vive. ¿A quién ve ella en su vecindario, en la escuela y en posiciones de poder a su alrededor?
¿Entonces, cómo comienza a tomar estas acciones importantes para combatir el racismo? Le explicamos a continuación.
Sea directo, haga preguntas y escúchela.
Para empezar, no evite el tema. Su silencio puede hacer que su niña piense que hablar sobre la raza y el racismo está prohibido o que el status quo es aceptable, cuando una conversación franca sobre estos temas es en realidad lo que más necesita y lo que los ayudará a ser parte de la solución.
De hecho, "elegir" hablar con sus hijos sobre el racismo y sus consecuencias no es una decisión que toda familia toma. A menudo es una conversación necesaria, incluso para salvar vidas, desde las edades más tempranas, especialmente para las familias de raza negra y otras familias de color.
Trish Tchume, directora del desarrollo de liderazgo en la organización de justicia social, Center for Community Change (centro para el cambio comunitario), recuerda que su madre inició una conversación con ella cuando tenía solo cinco o seis años sobre cómo, como niña negra, ella sería tratada de manera diferente a sus amistadas blancas.
"Ella me decía que cuando yo estuviera con mis amistades, la mayoría de ellos blancos, en el centro comercial o en la piscina, se les ocurrirían ideas para probar los límites de la autoridad que podrían ser inofensivos para ellos, pero no para mí. Me estaba diciendo que pensara y tuviera más cuidado porque los niños negros, y también los adultos, son tratados de manera diferente que los niños blancos cuando les responden a las figuras de autoridad o rompen las reglas,” como lo hacen todos los niños en algún momento.
"Mi madre no estaba tratando de herir mis sentimientos, solo estaba tratando de mantenerme a salvo,” agrega la Sra. Tchume.
No necesitan un gran discurso. Pregúntele a su niña qué ha visto y oído, y escuche lo que comparte con usted. Hágale saber que todo lo que ella siente está bien, incluso si está asustada, incómoda o enojada.
"Podría pensar que sentirá más miedo si usted admite que no tiene todas las respuestas, pero en mi experiencia con los niños, y de hecho con todos los humanos, las personas se sienten confortadas y mejor apoyadas cuando se les ofrece honestidad y emoción,” dice la Sra. Tchume.
Enséñele a identificar el racismo.
Para que la conversación sobre la raza y el racismo sea parte de una conversación "normal" en su hogar, comience cuando sus hijos sean pequeños (aunque empezar con los niños ya grandes es importante también). Según la Dra. Erin N. Winkler, quien estudia hablar con los niños sobre la raza, nunca es demasiado temprano para comenzar.
Los niños pequeños empiezan a reflejar el prejuicio prevalente en su sociedad. En los Estados Unidos eso significa un prejuicio hacia la blancura.
"Si nos fijamos en los medios de comunicación que sus hijos están consumiendo y lo que sale de eso, la princesa o el personaje que quieren ser para Halloween, por ejemplo, se puede ver que el prejuicio comienza temprano,” dice la Dra. Winkler.
¿Entonces, que puede hacer? “Es importante prestar atención a lo que se encuentra en su hogar. Tener juguetes, libros y programas de televisión que su niña y su familia usen y consuman con personajes negros y personajes de otras razas u otros orígenes en una variedad de roles puede ayudar a equilibrar una narrativa social que coloca a los personajes blancos en el centro o como más valiosos que otros.
Es importante hablar sobre quién queda excluido y quién está incluido, y cómo son tratados cuando están incluidos. Cuando usted lee un libro o mira la televisión con su niña, ¿hay algún personaje de color? Si los hay, ¿cómo se representan? ¿Están en un papel principal? ¿Reflejan estereotipos o tienen dimensión? Más allá de los personajes de libros y películas, cuando está en la escuela y aprende sobre la historia, ¿está aprendiendo la historia de quién?
Cada vez que se encuentre con una exclusión racial, pregúntele a su niña si ella cree que es justo, cómo se siente y cómo su familia podría trabajar unida para combatir este tipo de racismo cotidiano.
“La imparcialidad es una excelente forma de abordar este tema con los niños. Es un concepto que ellos entienden,” dice la Dra. Winkler.
Enséñele el valor de la diversidad y la inclusión, y de celebrar
Decir "somos todos iguales" o "no veo el color" podría ser dicho con las mejores intenciones, pero perpetúa el racismo porque ignora parte de las identidades de las personas. Además, decir que todos somos iguales implica que todos tienen las mismas experiencias y son tratados de la misma manera en nuestra sociedad, lo que las estadísticas y la discriminación diaria que enfrentan los negros, y otras personas de color, muestran que no es así.
En cambio, hable con su niña sobre cómo podemos honrar y celebrar nuestras diferencias, y sobre cómo todos nosotros, con nuestros antecedentes y experiencias únicas, traemos belleza al mundo de muchas maneras diferentes.
"Estoy orgullosa y emocionada de ser negra. Que una persona haga que otra borre una parte de lo que es para encajar, para ser visto o para ser amado no es bueno ni útil,” dice la Sra. Tchume.
Empodérela para desafiar el racismo cuando lo vea.
El racismo no siempre es violento o abierto. Aparece en muchas formas, y se basa en la falsa creencia de que la experiencia blanca es estándar y que las personas blancas son superiores a las demás.
Su comunidad y lo que ella ve todos los días en su mundo cuenta.
"No es solo lo que decimos, también es lo que hacemos, y lo que ella ve y la forma en que la vida cotidiana está configurada para ella.” ¿Qué escucha ella en la escuela? ¿A quién ve ella en su vecindario? Los niños asimilan todo eso y aprenden al ver lo que les rodea. Influye en cómo ven la raza,” dice la Dra. Winkler.
Además, algunos padres abordan el racismo como un "problema resuelto,” cuando todavía es un problema en la vida cotidiana de muchas familias.
El racismo no terminó con el Civil Rights Movement (movimiento por los derechos civiles). Mostrarles a los niños que personas como Martin Luther King Jr. y Rosa Parks, así como los héroes de todos los días, desempeñaron un papel en hacer cambios positivos puede ayudarlos a comprender que todos tenemos un papel que desempeñar y que ellos también pueden ayudar a mejorar las cosas, dice la Dra. Winkler. "Enseñarles a buscar a las personas de la comunidad que están ayudando, y mostrarles que hay personas comprometidas a cambiar las cosas en la actualidad, también es una excelente manera de ayudar a involucrar a los niños.”
Aprendan y actúen juntos.
Aunque las familias de diferentes razas y orígenes llegan a estas conversaciones desde diferentes perspectivas, una cosa que puede ayudar a muchos padres y cuidadores es educarse para aumentar su nivel de comprensión y comodidad, dice la Dra. Winkler. "Si usted no le puede explicar el racismo sistémico a otros adultos, podría ser difícil explicárselo a los niños pequeños de una manera que le parezca adecuada.”
La Sra. Tchume sugiere ser abierto y hablar con su niña sobre el hecho de que usted está aprendiendo al mismo tiempo que ella. Ver que los adultos tampoco tienen todas las respuestas, y que a menudo tienen que trabajar duro para encontrar las mejores formas de ayudar, le mostrará a su hija que hacer un cambio significativo requiere paciencia y dedicación.
También puede hablar con ella sobre las acciones que usted está tomando para marcar un cambio positivo como adulto, incluyendo la votación. Hágale saber sobre las cosas que puede hacer o que pueden hacer juntos como familia. Escribir cartas a sus representantes electos pidiéndoles que apoyen políticas antirracistas (y responsabilizarlos por sus acciones), y conectarse con grupos en su comunidad que trabajan por la igualdad, son solo algunas de las muchas maneras en que usted y su niña pueden ayudar a construir un mundo justo para todos.
Aquí hay algunos recursos adicionales para apoyarlo:
Hay pocos temas más complicados que la raza en los Estados Unidos. Los recursos y las conversaciones que se mencionan en este articulo representan solo eso: un comienzo. Nos comprometemos a continuar la conversación trayendo una variedad de voces a la mesa, escuchándonos, educándonos y reconociendo que necesitamos comenzar en algún lugar. Todos tenemos un papel que desempeñar para lograr que el mundo que queremos ver para nuestras niñas se convierta en realidad. Únase a nosotros en el esfuerzo. —Sinceramente, El equipo de Para su familia (Raising Awesome Girls)
*Por favor tenga en cuenta que todas las citas en este artículo han sido traducidas del inglés.*
Como muchos de nosotros, los niños también están teniendo dificultades con estar encerrados en casa durante la pandemia. Ellos extrañan a sus amigos, a sus equipos de fútbol y a las tropas de Girl Scouts. Extrañan su libertad. Pero a pesar de que tenga sentido que sus hijos estén de mal humor o más sensibles de lo habitual en este momento, las peleas constantes, la falta de respeto y un mal comportamiento en general NO está bien.
Lamentablemente, no hay una varita mágica que haga que su familia se lleve bien el 100 por ciento del tiempo. Pero todavía hay esperanza. La psicóloga especialista en desarrollo, la Dra. Cyndy Karras, recomienda estos cinco pasos simples que puede tomar para tener más paz en su hogar.
En un mundo impactado por el nuevo coronavirus, puede parecer que todo lo divertido o significativo ha sido cancelado. Desde las fiestas de cumpleaños y las vacaciones hasta las obras de teatro escolares, los deportes y posiblemente hasta las ceremonias de graduación, muchos de los momentos especiales que su niña había esperado y planeado de repente se han pospuesto o simplemente no sucederán.
Por supuesto, en el gran esquema de las circunstancias, perderse una excursión o una cita para jugar es un pequeño sufrimiento en comparación con aquellas personas cuyos seres queridos pueden enfermarse o tener un alto riesgo de contraer el virus, pero eso no significa que su niña no se sentirá decepcionada. Aquí le mostramos cómo puede ayudarla a sobrellevar y aprender a ser resistente en estos tiempos que están cambiando tan rápidamente.
Intentar proteger a su niña de la realidad mientras sea posible puede parecer más fácil que decirle que algo que ella estaba esperando con mucha anticipación ha sido cancelado. Pero cuando el mundo está al revés, su niña depende de usted más que nunca para que sea alguien en quien puede confiar. Es posible que no tenga todas las respuestas (algunos eventos se han pospuesto indefinidamente y algunos se han cancelado por completo) y eso está bien, pero es importante no ocultarle información. Si a su niña más pequeña se le hace difícil entender por qué los planes tienen que cambiar, hágale saber que los adultos están trabajando muy duro para mantener a todos seguros y saludables, y que algunas actividades tendrán que esperar un tiempo hasta que los adultos puedan resolver esto y asegurarse que todos estén fuera de peligro.
Dele su espacio
Reprimir los sentimientos y actuar como si todo está bien cuando en realidad no lo está, no es bueno para la salud mental de nadie. Es importante que su niña sepa que sentirse decepcionada en este momento es totalmente normal e incluso saludable. Si necesita un día o dos para estar de mal humor o tomar tiempo sola en su habitación, hágale saber que también está decepcionado con las cosas en este momento, y comprende que ella debe estar sufriendo. Luego dele un poco de tiempo y espacio para salir de sus frustraciones. Aliéntela a conectarse de forma segura con amistades que probablemente estén pasando por decepciones similares en este momento. Un sentido de comunidad y amistad la ayudará a ver que no es la única que se siente triste o enojada y puede hacerla sentirse mucho mejor a largo plazo.
Déjele que lidere el camino para seguir adelante
Muchas cosas son inciertas en este momento, pero eso no significa que el mundo haya dejado de girar. La vida continúa, solo de manera diferente de lo que todos habíamos planeado. Siéntese con ella y haga que invente nuevos planes que funcionen dentro de sus circunstancias actuales. Si está molesta porque se cancelará un recital de baile o una obra de teatro en la escuela, ¿hay otras formas creativas en que podría compartir su actuación desde casa, tal vez usando video? Si está decepcionada por perderse el cumpleaños de un amigo u otra ocasión especial, tal vez podría crear algo con ella en casa que le pueda enviar por correo a sus seres queridos con los que no celebrará en persona. Encontrar soluciones creativas en tiempos difíciles es una habilidad que puede darle una sensación de control durante la pandemia de coronavirus y mostrarle cómo ser servicial y atenta con los demás a lo largo de su vida.
Déjele ayudar a otros
Una de las mejores maneras de superar una decepción es ayudar a otros a superar sus propios momentos difíciles. Mucha gente se siente asustada, enojada y sola en este momento y podrían beneficiarse de un poco de ánimo. Pídale que piense en maneras en que pueda traerles algo de felicidad y alegría a las personas que se sienten aisladas o asustadas. Desde escribir canciones divertidas para cantarle a sus abuelos en su próxima llamada o escribir tarjetas de agradecimiento para los profesionales de la salud que trabajan arduamente para mantenernos a todos seguros, encontrar una manera de retribuir puede darle un sentido de propósito y control, al mismo tiempo que hace del mundo un lugar mejor.
Entre cumplir con esa fecha límite para el trabajo, hacer mandados domésticos y simplemente tratar de mantenerse al día con familiares y amigos, la vida puede ser bastante estresante. Agregue las noticias del mundo como la pandemia global que nos enfrenta en estos momentos, y puede sentirse francamente abrumador.
Y no solo los adultos se sienten nerviosos. Según los informes, hasta uno de cada cinco niños y adolescentes sienten ansiedad, pánico u otro sentimiento relacionado.
Parte de esto podría resultar de que los niños toman sus señales emocionales de los adultos en sus vidas (y si estamos estresados, ¡se dan cuenta y piensan que también deberían estar estresados!). Pero otra parte de esto, sin duda, tiene que ver con el hecho de que el mundo es un lugar incierto, y por mucho que tratemos de proteger a nuestros hijos de las noticias, es imposible y poco práctico protegerlos por completo de muchas de las situaciones difíciles y confusas y, a veces, hasta de conversaciones molestas y eventos negativos que ocurren a nuestro alrededor. Y a medida que los niños mayores comienzan a aprender más, es natural que se sientan confundidos o estresados. ¡Vivimos en tiempos muy complicados!
Entonces, ¿qué podemos hacer con toda esta ansiedad y estrés? Mientras no podemos simplemente parpadear los ojos y hacer que todas nuestras tareas caseras y profesionales se completen mágicamente, y mucho menos traer armonía y salud perfecta al mundo, si podemos ofrecer algunas estrategias sólidas para encontrar la calma en medio del caos. Considere este articulo un recurso excelente para cuando las cosas parecen un poco fuera de control.
Los siguientes consejos funcionan tanto para niños como para adultos, así que considere modelarlos para niños más pequeños y/o practicarlos como familia cuando tenga sentido hacerlo. Una dosis extra de tiempo de calidad puede ser relajante para todos, ¿verdad?
Por supuesto, si usted o su hija están luchando con la ansiedad, la depresión o con sentimientos de malestar en general, hay personas en su comunidad que pueden ayudar. ¿No está seguro de dónde empezar? Comuníquese con su proveedor primario de atención médica para obtener los recursos apropiados.
El coronavirus, o COVID-19, ha trastornado el mundo tal como lo conocemos. Millones de familias están tratando de mantener vivo el aprendizaje en casa con el cierre de las escuelas por el virus, incluso mientras intentan adaptarse a sus nuevas realidades de trabajar desde la casa o no poder trabajar dependiendo a lo que se dedica, surtirse de las provisiones esenciales para el hogar y hacer todo lo posible para mantener sus seres queridos sanos. ¿Francamente? Es mucho con que contender.
La buena noticia es que, a pesar de que tenemos que practicar el distanciamiento social (permanecer adentro cuando sea posible y mantenerse al menos a seis pies de distancia de aquellos que no están en su hogar), no está solo en esta lucha. Hablamos con varios maestros que tienen experiencia vasta con el aprendizaje de todos tipos y nos ofrecieron consejos increíblemente prácticos sobre cómo las familias pueden superar este momento difícil.
Ponga a la familia y los sentimientos en primer lugar
Estos son tiempos difíciles y la realidad es que no todas las familias pueden hacer de la educación su primera prioridad. "Mantener su salud mental y asegurarse de que sus hijos estén alimentados y saludables es, honestamente, lo primero en lo que debe enfocarse en este momento,” dice la Dra. Cyndy Karras, psicóloga del desarrollo y maestra veterana basada en Austin [traducido del inglés]. La educación académica es, por supuesto, importante, dice ella, "pero estos son tiempos sin precedentes, y está bien tomar una pausa y usar su tiempo para asegurarse que la salud mental de su familia este bien encaminada, si eso es lo que se necesita.” Una vez que tenga la parte socioemocional bajo control, los estudios y el aprendizaje seguirán.” ¿Y si cada meta de aprendizaje establecida por la escuela de su niña no se logra mientras ella está aprendiendo desde casa? Que así sea. “Su futuro académico no se verá dañado por esta temporada fuera del aula tradicional. Respire profundo y haga lo mejor que pueda.”
Deles a los niños una opción y una voz
Sarah Scheldt, guía de padres (enlace solo disponible en inglés) y maestra de escuela primaria basada en Brooklyn, dice que es importante incluir a su niña cuando este ideando soluciones a los nuevos desafíos en su familia. “Reúna a su familia para escribir un plan familiar en el que todos puedan estar de acuerdo. Tal vez decidan que los niños se concentrarán en los paquetes de tareas o leerán durante ciertos momentos del día, y durante otros bloques de tiempo puedan elegir entre una variedad de actividades divertidas que se les ocurran juntos,” sugiere ella [traducido del inglés]. "Estos son tiempos complicados, y está bien decirles a sus hijos que usted necesita su ayuda y sus ideas. Hable no solo de lo que usted necesita de ellos, sino también asegúrese de preguntarles qué necesitan ellos de usted. De hecho, cuando hace eso, no solo está haciendo que se sientan más dueños del plan, sino que también le está enseñando sobre la responsabilidad, la cooperación y el trabajo en equipo. Más tarde, si no siguen el plan, pueden volver a visitar lo que acordaron juntos para ayudar a que todos se concentren en sus metas otra vez.”
Usted no va a poder replicar la experiencia del aula, y eso está
Si la escuela de su niña ofrece clases en línea, eso es genial, y ella debería participar en ellas los más posible, pero no es realista pensar que los niños obtendrán la misma experiencia que alcanzan en la escuela, dice Melissa Abrahams, una maestra de escuela primaria en el sur de California [traducido del inglés]. "No es útil fingir que todo está normal en este momento, porque esa no es la realidad, y su niña lo sabe. Si tiene problemas para concentrarse, dele un descanso para hacer algo que no se siente como la escuela,” dice ella. "Miren una película juntos y pregúntele qué piensa que va a pasar con los personajes a continuación y por qué (esto le ayudara a practicar el pensamiento crítico) o juegue un juego de mesa que incluya matemáticas y estrategia. Aprenderá sin siquiera pensarlo.” ¿La actividad favorita de esta maestra para los niños que reciben educación temporal en el hogar? Mantener un diario. "En este momento están sucediendo muchas cosas sobre las que su niña podría querer escribir para recordarse de ellas más tarde. Además, es un desagüe saludable para algunas de las emociones con las que ella está teniendo. También practicará sus habilidades lingüísticas al mismo tiempo.”
Solicite ayuda con ese paquete de tareas
¿Qué sucede si el maestro de su niña envió a casa un paquete de trabajo, pero no tiene idea de cómo ayudarla con eso? "Sea honesto con su niña y hágale saber que usted no sabe todas las respuestas,” dice la Dra. Karras [traducido del inglés]. "Cuando usted admita que no está seguro de cómo explicarle algo, pero que lo descubrirán juntos, ella comenzará a verlos como un equipo y se sentirá aún más apoyada por usted.” Luego, comuníquese con sus redes sociales, amigos que puedan tener experiencia en ese tema, o incluso padres y cuidadores de otros estudiantes en la clase de su niña. “La razón por la cual hay tantos recursos gratuitos para el aprendizaje a distancia en este momento es porque las personas saben que estos son tiempos difíciles y realmente quieren ayudar de cualquier manera que puedan. Recuerde que no está solo en esto.”
Mantenga el aprendizaje en casa un poco ligero y apropiado para niños
Si usted tuvo visiones de su niña sentada en la mesa de la cocina, estudiando durante dos o más horas a la vez, Scheldt dice que podría estar pidiendo demasiado de ella en esta situación. "Para los niños de seis a 12 años, es mucho más realista hacer que se concentren en el trabajo escolar durante 20 minutos a la vez y luego tomarse un descanso mental con algo rápido y divertido.” [traducido del inglés] En cuanto a lo que su niña debería estar aprendiendo más allá de cualquier tarea formal, Scheldt dice que deje que su niña decida. "Si le gustan ciertos programas de televisión, películas o libros, podría usar artículos que ya tenga en el hogar para hacer marionetas de los personajes y representar la historia. O si hay una receta familiar que le encanta, puede enseñarla a prepararla. Haga que cuente cuántos huevos está usando. Pregúntele por qué cree que se necesitan ciertos ingredientes. Esta es una lección en seguir instrucciones, química, matemáticas y también una gran dosis de tradiciones familiares, todo a la misma vez.”
"Estoy gorda." Esas son solo dos pequeñas palabras, cinco letras en total, pero viniendo de su hija, en un tono tan despreciativo son suficientes para hacer que su corazón se hunda por completo. ¿Cómo podría una niña que suele ser tan amable y aceptar a los demás ser tan desdeñosa de sí misma?
Según los estudios, un 80 por ciento de las niñas de 10 años tienen miedo de ser gordas. ¿Por qué? debido a que están constantemente rodeadas de mensajes tanto sutiles como directos, de que las niñas más curvilíneas o pesadas no son tan apreciadas, que no tienen tantas probabilidades de tener éxito en los negocios y, en general, que no van a tener mucha diversión o felicidad en sus vidas. Piénselo: muchas de las heroínas animadas que idealizan las niñas tienen cuerpos delgados irreales, las revistas de chismes y los sitios web se apresuran a llamar escándalo incluso a una onza de celulitis de celebridades, y los supuestos "chistes sobre gordos,” a pesar de su inherente ofensiva, siguen siendo completamente aceptables en muchos círculos, así como en películas y programas de televisión. Es algo muy triste.
Entonces, cuando su hija se llame así misma gorda, como su padre su instinto podría ser de eliminar de inmediato sus preocupaciones diciendo algo como: "¡No seas tonta! ¡Eres hermosa! "La cosa es que, sin embargo, esa respuesta podría hacer más daño que bien. "Primero que nada,” dice la psicóloga de desarrollo de Girl Scouts, la Dra. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, "si realmente ella ve su cuerpo de cierta manera, simplemente decirle que deje de verlo de esa manera no va a ayudar mucho.” Recuerde hace unos años el vestido famoso en las redes sociales que algunas personas pensaban que era azul y otras que era dorado, y que frustrante fue cuando los que lo vieron de manera diferente insistieron en que usted lo estaba viendo mal y trataron de hacer que lo viera de la forma en que ellos lo veían. Así es como se sentirá su niña cuando le diga que su cuerpo simplemente no es como cree que es.”
En segundo lugar, al decirle esencialmente que no está gorda, que es bonita, usted refuerza la idea de que los cuerpos más gordos, redondos, curvados o más pesados no son hermosos, lo que simplemente no es cierto. Hay infinitas formas de ser bella, y su hija crecerá con una relación mucho más saludable con su cuerpo si le enseña eso de una manera genuina desde una edad temprana.
Entonces, ¿qué debe hacer cuando su hija se llama gorda así misma? Siga estos consejos de la Dra. Bastiani Archibald:
* Un mejor enfoque es hacer una pausa por un momento y preguntarle a su hija por qué cree que está gorda. ¿Es porque su ropa se ajusta de forma diferente a como solía hacerlo, o porque una talla que ella solía usar ya no se siente tan cómoda? Sus amigos en la escuela tienen diferentes tipos de cuerpos, y entonces ¿ella se compara con ellos? "No tenga miedo de hablar con su hija sobre su cuerpo y cómo se siente al respecto,” dice la Dra. Bastiani Archibald. “Muchos padres piensan que es mejor no hablar de imagen corporal, pero la verdad es que a pesar de que hay muchas cosas acerca de nosotros que nos hacen únicos y valiosos, nuestra apariencia influye nuestra confianza y sentido de identidad.”
Entonces, haga la pregunta y escuche realmente su respuesta. Si dice que cree que sus piernas son más grandes o que su barriga es más redonda que la de sus amigas, esas pueden ser observaciones correctas, y no hay nada de malo en reconocer eso. "Su hija nunca debe avergonzarse de las realidades de su propio cuerpo,” dice la Dra. Bastiani Archibald. "Somos todas diferentes en muchos aspectos, y es contraproducente pretender que no lo somos.” Sin embargo, ella no va a encontrar la aceptación total de su cuerpo de la noche a la mañana. Mientras tanto, ayúdela a identificar algunas partes de su cuerpo que le gustan y de las que se siente orgullosa. Tal vez tenga los brazos más elegantes en su clase de baile, o piernas fuertes que impulsen los mejores goles en fútbol, o sea más alta que la mayoría de sus amigas y pueda llegar a la parte más alta del gimnasio. Hablar regularmente y felicitarla por lo que su cuerpo puede hacer en lugar de solo lo que parece puede realmente ayudar a cambiar sus percepciones y orientación hacia lo que es importante.
* Otra razón por la que su niña podría llamarse gorda así misma, es porque le escuchó hacer lo mismo. Su hija escucha todo lo que dice, y si se está parando enfrente al espejo y se queja de su peso, es muy probable que ella siga sus pasos. Así que hágales un favor a todos y sea un poco más amable con usted mismo. Identifique partes de su cuerpo que le sirvan bien y tome nota de las cosas que realmente ama sobre su aspecto. Los hábitos saludables como comer bien y hacer ejercicio son buenos para todos, y deben ser una parte diaria de su rutina, pero fijarse en su cuerpo y cómo podría o debería ser diferente no es saludable para nadie.
* Asegúrese de que ella tenga modelos a seguir con imagen corporales positivas. Tanto la alfombra roja como la sala de juntas en las oficinas son cada vez más diversas en cuanto al tamaño y la forma del cuerpo, pero es posible que las niñas no vean esto reflejado en las revistas o en sus sitios web favoritos, así que haga un esfuerzo adicional para enseñarle otros mensajes diferentes a los que su hija puede estar recibiendo de otras fuentes de información. Para las niñas más jóvenes, podría ser útil mostrarle algunas imágenes hermosas de mujeres con tipos de cuerpo muy diferentes y contarle todo lo que han logrado y por lo que son más conocidas: sus cerebros, sus talentos, sus habilidades, su velocidad, su sentido del humor. Ella necesita saber que no es necesario que tenga un tamaño o forma determinado para ser grande en la vida.
Lamentablemente, no hay una solución instantánea para el problema de la sociedad con avergonzar a los cuerpos más grandes y las representaciones limitantes de la belleza que se presentan como estándares para niñas y mujeres. Pero hay cosas que puede hacer en casa con su hija, y en su vida diaria en general, para ayudar a luchar contra esta cultura y crear una mejor en la que todos se celebren como maravillosos y dignos.
Evidentemente, llegar a un sitio de votación el día de las elecciones, ya sea que esté votando por el próximo presidente de los Estados Unidos o por el concejal local, es increíblemente importante, y es algo que puede (¡y debería!) compartir con su hija.
"Algunos padres piensan que votar es un asunto demasiado serio para las mentes de los niños, que la política no tiene nada que ver con sus mundos y que es algo que los aburre,” dice la Dra. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, psicóloga de desarrollo de Girl Scouts, "pero eso no puede estar más lejos de la verdad. Votar se trata de usar su voz para defender lo que cree. Estoy bastante segura de que todos nosotros, como padres, independientemente de nuestras inclinaciones políticas, deseamos que nuestros hijos crezcan sabiendo que sus pensamientos y opiniones son importantes. Además, los candidatos que son elegidos para tomar oficina política estarán estableciendo el futuro de su niña, desde sus opciones educativas de hoy hasta sus realidades financieras cuando se convierta en una adulta.”
¡Entonces sí! Debe llevar a su hija con usted cuando vote, pero también debe hablar con ella sobre lo que está sucediendo y por qué deberían estar entusiasmados de participar. Siga estas sencillas sugerencias para ayudar a su niña a convertirse en una ciudadana entusiasta y comprometida, ¡incluso antes de que tenga la edad suficiente para emitir su propia boleta!
Las acusaciones de agresión sexual contra un aspirante a la Corte
Suprema han estado ocupando titulares en todo tipo de medios de
comunicación, y no son solo los adultos quienes están hablando sobre
el tema. Debido a que las acusaciones involucran el presunto asalto de
una adolescente, los jóvenes, especialmente las niñas que pueden haber
estado en situaciones similares o que conocen a alguien que sí lo ha
estado, están prestando atención y asimilando todo.
"Mientras los detalles de la acusación son gráficos e inquietante, lo que es quizás más inquietante, y de hecho peligroso, es que muchos en el ojo público dicen que incluso si estas acusaciones son ciertas, este tipo de comportamiento no es gran cosa,” dice la psicóloga del desarrollo de Girl Scouts, la Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. "Este mensaje de que la agresión sexual es solo una indiscreción de los adolescentes, que es similar a payasadas, o que es un 'comportamiento normal' para los adolescentes es dañino no solo para las niñas, sino para todos los jóvenes.”
Específicamente, este tipo de despidos puede hacer que las niñas y
las mujeres tengan aún menos probabilidades de denunciar un ataque
sexual, más probabilidades de culparse a sí mismas y evitar que
obtengan la ayuda que necesitan para recuperarse. Mientras tanto, este
mensaje es perjudicial para los niños porque les está estereotipando
injustamente a todos como tóxicos, misóginos y violentos, y
esencialmente les da un pase libre para participar en estos horribles
La dura verdad es que el asalto sexual en adolescentes es increíblemente común y se reporta muy poco:
Una de cada cuatro niñas sufre abusos sexuales antes de cumplir 18 años, según el Centro Nacional de Recursos contra la Violencia Sexual.
Uno de cada diez adolescentes que han tenido relaciones sentimentales informaron que un compañero les besó, los tocó o los forzó a tener contacto sexual en contra de su voluntad, según el Instituto Nacional de Justicia.
Según la Red Nacional de Violación, Abuso e Incesto (RAINN), las niñas y mujeres entre 16 y 19 años tienen cuatro veces más probabilidades que la población en general de sufrir violación, intento de violación o agresión sexual.
Un enorme tercio de las niñas que han sido hostigadas o abusadas sexualmente dijeron que no hicieron nada en respuesta al hostigamiento o asalto, según el Centro Nacional de Leyes Femeninas.
Es aterrador considerar, y a menudo es más fácil pensar: "¡Bueno, no mi niña!" pero como padres y cuidadores, tenemos que hacerlo mejor.
"Nuestro trabajo es hacer que las niñas en nuestras vidas sepan que tomamos en serio lo que les sucede a ellas, que sus cuerpos y sus derechos deben ser respetados y que su seguridad y bienestar es lo primero. Además, tenemos que hacerles saber a los niños que nada sobre la agresión sexual es normal y que esperamos, y de hecho exigimos, mejor de ellos,” dice la Dr. Bastiani Archibald.
Tener este tipo de conversaciones con sus hijos puede parecer incómodo al principio, o incluso intimidante, pero su salud, seguridad y bienestar dependen de ello. Aquí hay algunas ideas para comenzar:
Habla de lo que ella ya sabe
Puede usar las noticias como iniciador de conversación, diciendo que ha escuchado a mucha gente hablando de agresión sexual entre adolescentes. Pregúntale qué ha estado escuchando y qué están diciendo sus amigos en la escuela. Decirle cuán común es este tipo de abuso podría hacer que se sienta más cómoda al admitir si ha visto o escuchado sobre este tipo de comportamiento en su grupo de amigos.
Comparte tus propias historias
Debido a que el comportamiento sexual agresivo y no deseado es tan frecuente en la adolescencia, muchos de nosotros tenemos nuestras propias historias o conocemos a alguien que ha experimentado abuso sexual. No es necesario que reveles tu propia experiencia personal si no te sientes cómodo haciéndolo. Averiguar acerca de algo que le sucedió a alguien que conocía o que sucedió en una fiesta cuando era joven, y cómo le afectó, puede generar confianza y hacerle saber a su niña que ha estado en su lugar y que usted toma en serio las violaciones sexuales.
Hable sobre relaciones saludables
Las amistades, los enamoramientos y las relaciones sentimentales tempranas pueden ser confusas y emocionantes, pero siempre deben basarse en el respeto, la reciprocidad de los sentimientos y el consentimiento explícito. Asegúrese de que sus hijos entiendan lo que eso significa, y de que siempre pueden hablar con usted si sienten que alguien (incluso alguien a quien conocen y les gusta) no es respetuoso o los hace sentir inseguros.
Enfatice que nunca, nunca, es su culpa
No importa lo que viste una persona, a dónde va, con quién habla, o qué otras decisiones ha tomado, ser víctima de agresiones sexuales nunca es su culpa. Nadie debería sentirse culpable por negarse a un contacto físico no deseado, incluso si esa persona está enamorada de ella, es popular, le ha comprado algo o si ha tenido contacto físico con ella en el pasado. Además, su niña debe saber que puede acudir a usted en busca de ayuda si alguien la ha hecho sentir incómoda o ha violado sus límites. Muchas personas que han experimentado violencia sexual se sienten avergonzadas por lo que les sucedió y se preocupan de que hayan participado en el asalto, pero es vital que su niña comprenda que nunca será juzgada cuando acuda a usted en busca de ayuda.
Mantenga la conversación en marcha, en casa y en el mundo
Desafortunadamente, el problema de la agresión sexual no va a desaparecer pronto, por lo que es importante plantear el tema una y otra vez a medida que su niña crece y tiene experiencias nuevas y diferentes. Al hablar con regularidad, abierta y honestamente sobre sus relaciones, salud y seguridad, puede borrar el tabú sobre el tema y crear una atmósfera en la que se sentiría cómoda acudiendo a usted en caso de necesidad.
Más allá de tener estas conversaciones con su niña, mantenga
sus oídos abiertos para comentarios y charla que escuche en el mundo.
Si alguien que usted conoce rechaza la agresión sexual como "no
es gran cosa,” haga lo valiente y corríjalos sin disculparse. Nuestras
niñas (y niños) están mirando y escuchando su ejemplo, y su audacia
podría darles el coraje de hacer lo mismo. Cambiar la cultura y
difundir el mensaje de que no se tolerará la violencia sexual es
quizás la medida más poderosa que podemos hacer para mantener a
nuestras niñas, y de hecho a todos los jóvenes, a salvo.
Si usted o alguien que usted conoce ha sido agredido sexualmente, el apoyo gratuito y confidencial está disponible las 24 horas, todos los días de la semana, a través de la Línea Directa Nacional de Agresión Sexual al 800-656-HOPE.
¿Sabes cómo algunos dicen que el mundo es de los hombres? Bueno, ese
sigue siendo el caso cuando se trata de los campos de ciencia,
tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM, por sus siglas en Ingles
siglas en Inglés), donde las mujeres representan menos de una cuarta
parte de la fuerza laboral. Y teniendo en cuenta que aproximadamente
el 80 por ciento de los empleos de nivel medio, incluyendo los que no
requieren un título universitario, involucran
habilidades de STEM, necesitamos que las niñas se pongan al
día rápidamente en las áreas de STEM.
¿Qué puede hacer al respecto? ¡Críela para que se apasione de las ciencias!
Aunque, ¿qué significa ser apasionada de las ciencias? "No
todas las niñas van a querer seguir una carrera en STEM, y es
importante alentarla a que siga sus propias pasiones,” dice la
psicóloga de desarrollo de Girl Scouts, la Dra. Andrea
Bastiani Archibald, "pero a todas las niñas se les debe animar a
probar sus habilidades de STEM, a que se sientan cómodas con esos
conceptos y que aprendan cómo se aplican a todo tipo de campos
sorprendentes, desde la moda a las finanzas, y más allá.”
¿No estás seguro que hacer para que su niña comience el camino a ser apasionada de las ciencias?
No hay duda de que quiere preparar a su niña para triunfar en el mundo. Y en estos tiempos donde todo es impulsado por la tecnología de los televisores inteligentes, las aspiradoras robóticas y las cajas de auto-pago en el supermercado, criar a su hija para que sea una líder digital es definitivamente una decisión inteligente. Pero lo que eso significa, y lo que debe hacer para inculcar el liderazgo digital en su niña, puede ser muy diferente de lo que usted piensa.
¿Cómo es eso del liderazgo digital?
Alerta de noticia: pasar horas en Instagram o Minecraft, aunque divertido, no transformará a nadie en el próximo niño prodigo del Silicon Valley en California. ¿Por qué? Porque estar cómodo usando la última tecnología es solo una parte del liderazgo digital. Las encuestas a directores ejecutivos y gerentes de contratación revelaron que el simple hecho de poder codificar u operar tecnología emergente no abre las puertas como lo solía hacer. En lugar de centrarse simplemente en lo que una persona sabe sobre tecnología, las empresas están buscando personas que sean líderes digitales de una manera más profunda y con mayor alcance. Estas personas no solo entienden el mundo mundo digital, sino que también usan su conocimiento para hacer avances y mejoras a la sociedad. Los líderes digitales de hoy necesitan innovar y pensar de manera crítica y creativa, adaptarse a un mundo que cambia rápidamente, conectarse y colaborar entre equipos y tener la confianza para inspirar a otros.
¿Podría ser su niña una líder digital?
Lo creas o no, ¡existe la posibilidad de que su niña ya esté en camino de convertirse en una líder digital! Un estudio reciente realizado por el Instituto de Investigación de Girl Scouts (Girl Scouts Research Institute) mostró que las niñas están realmente por delante de los niños en respecta al liderazgo digital al usar la tecnología para beneficiarse a sí mismas, a sus comunidades y sus mundos al crear, conectarse e innovar. Desafortunadamente, en lo que se están quedando cortas es en el departamento de confianza. "Los padres tienden a ser más precavidos con las niñas en el mundo digital mientras que les dan a sus hijos más libertad para explorar y aprender nuevas tecnologías por sí mismos,” dice la Dra. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, psicóloga de desarrollo de Girl Scouts. “Cuando los adultos intervienen para ‘ayudar’ todo el tiempo pueden hacer que las niñas cuestionen sus habilidades y, en muchos casos, incluso pueden obstaculizar su interés y aprendizaje digital.”
Tres maneras fáciles para ayudarla a ser una líder digital
Si está convencido de la importancia del liderazgo digital, pero se siente un poco intimidado cuando se trata de ayudar a su niña a desarrollarlo, no está solo. "El nivel de tecnología y el acceso a la misma son muy diferentes para esta generación que hace 20 años,” dice la Dr. Bastiani Archibald. "Muchos padres y abuelos pueden sentirse fuera de su zona de confort cuando se trata de fomentar el liderazgo digital en sus hijas, pero la buena noticia es que nadie tiene que ser un genio de la tecnología para criar a uno.” Pruebe estos consejos y observe su niña ¡florecer!
La ciencia, la tecnología, la ingeniería y las matemáticas (STEM,
por sus siglas en inglés) están a nuestro alrededor. ¡Casi en todas
partes donde miramos!, podemos encontrar ejemplos de cómo STEM
explica, habilita y mejora nuestras vidas.
Entonces, ¿cómo puede encender el interés de su hija en STEM y ayudarla a ver que un futuro en STEM puede hacer del mundo un lugar mejor?
¡Solo mire alrededor! Hay formas súper simples de encontrar
"momentos de enseñanza" en su vida cotidiana. Ya sea que su
niña esté en la escuela primaria, secundaria o preparatoria, puede
divertirse y aprender sobre STEM al mismo tiempo, ¡con su ayuda!
No se preocupe. No necesita ser un experto para presentarle a su niña STEM; solo tiene que iniciar la conversación y ella aprenderá el resto. Solo haga que su pensamiento despierte su curiosidad. Y si ella plantea una pregunta a la que no puede responder fácilmente, solo diga "buena pregunta" y encuentren la respuesta juntos.
Aquí hay actividades fáciles de probar, ajustadas a su nivel de grado:
Grados K- 5
Las niñas más jóvenes son exploradoras naturales. ¡Ayúdela a encontrar temas interesantes de STEM todos los días!
A esta edad, ella está pensando en su futuro y está lista para encontrar su pasión en STEM.
Ella está lista para explorar su independencia y STEM puede ser el vehículo perfecto para ayudarla a encontrar su futuro.
Recuerde, cuando alienta a su hija a explorar temas de STEM, no se trata de tener las respuestas, sino de plantear las preguntas. Ayúdela a explorar y encontrar sus propias respuestas, ¡y ella pensará como una científica antes de que usted se dé cuenta!
Más allá de una manera maravillosa de honrar y celebrar la herencia de su familia, criar a su niña para que hable más de un idioma puede darle un gran impulso a la hora de conseguir un trabajo, viajar por el mundo e incluso aprender nuevos conceptos en general. “Cuantas más formas tenga de expresarse su hija, mejor,” dice la Dra. Adriana Weisleder, Directora del Laboratorio de Lenguaje Infantil de la Universidad Northwestern. Pero probablemente hay algunas cosas que no sabes sobre ser una niña verdaderamente bilingüe en el mundo de hoy. Aquí están seis cosas que los niños bilingües quieren que sepas:
Does your girl like music, playing sports, or cooking? How about video games, dancing, or stargazing? Does she dream of curing disease, inventing things, or caring for animals?
Yes? Then she likes science—and she may be interested in engineering! That’s great news for her and for our society—we need more women involved with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Of all STEM fields, the “E” (engineering) is most lacking women. We need to fuel the pipeline!
Kids are natural engineers. They are incredibly curious, love to play, take things apart, and interact with the world to understand how it works. Girls in elementary school already have the right mindset for STEM: they’re curious, aren't afraid to ask questions, enjoy working with others, like to use their imaginations, and love making things.
So how do you channel her interest in science into activities that will engage, entertain, and educate her to be a challenge-seeker, problem-solver, and world-changer? We can inspire girls to explore a future in engineering by showing them how STEM subjects are interesting, exciting, and can help people lead better lives. It’s easier than you may think.
Help her see that STEM is everywhere. Play a game to spot science and engineering in our everyday lives. Help her take things apart (safety first!) to see how they work. Get outdoors and observe the science of nature.
Introduce her to STEM role models. Watch shows and documentaries about science. Check out books and comics with STEM role models. Find places in your community where people work in STEM jobs, take a tour, and meet real-life role models.
Encourage her to participate in STEM activities. Suggest she take part in STEM events at school. Discuss issues like taking care of animals or feeding the hungry that can be addressed by STEM. Talk about how scientists can—and do—make the world a better place.
We can help girls understand that it’s great to dream big, but that it’s okay to fail too. That’s right, failure can be a good thing! Trying, failing, and rethinking and trying again is what engineers and others do all the time.
Great thinkers, scientists, and inventors, from Leonardo da Vinci to Marie Curie to today’s modern technologists, approach discovery this way. It’s called “design thinking”—and it’s actually one of the best ways for kids to learn! Hands-on experimentation or “learning by doing” is far more effective than abstract thinking and memorization of concepts. And, consider how empowering it is for a girl to test her own ideas and come up with her own solutions to real problems.
“The freedom to fail, and try again, allows girls to flex their problem-solving and leadership skills,” according to Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Girl Scouts of the USA’s resident developmental psychologist. “The design-thinking process makes challenges exciting—and makes failure expected and relatively comfortable and normal. This can be quite liberating for girls who too often have greater concerns about success and failure, especially in subjects like science.“
So next time she’s taking pictures, editing a video, looking at the night sky, or even baking a tasty treat, remind her that there’s science behind all those activities—and encourage her to embrace her inner engineer, and inspire others to do the same!
The college application process can be rough. Whether your girl is trying to get into the Ivy League school she’s dreamed of since kindergarten or just wants to go to the same school as her bestie, the whole process can be exhausting and majorly stressful for all involved. When the stakes are this high, of course, you want to do everything in your power to help—but you might want to pause and take a step back before getting too involved. Here are some major pitfalls even the most well-meaning families fall into at college admissions time and how you can avoid them.